A trio of powerful Democratic Senators has asked the FCC to rule expeditiously on Tribune's planned sale of the stations to an employee group and billionaire Chicago investor Sam Zell.
While they did not recommend which way the FCC should decide, Dick Durbin (Ill., where Tribune is headquartered), Charles Schumer (N.Y.) they leaned on the process a little, saying that the "prompt consideration" of the deal was in the "public interest."
Tribune has applied for extensions of its waivers to the newspaper-broadcast crossownership rule to the new ownership. Ordinarily, the waivers would expire with the change of control, but Tribune has pointed out that the FCC has already expressed a preference, backed by a Philadelphia federal appeals court, to drop the ban on owning a newspaper and TV station in the same market.
That preference won't likely be expressed in regulation, or in this case deregulation, for a while since the FCC is in the midst of a years-long review of its ownership rules that won't' be completed until next year at the earliest.