Apollo’s Cox, Northwest Stations Deal Gets FCC Approval, With Tweaks

Changes meant to adhere to recent rulings on broadcast deregulation rules.
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WASHINGTON—The FCC has given its approval for Terrier Media, a newly formed company owned by Apollo Global Management, to acquire TV and radio stations from both Cox Enterprises and Northwest (NBI Holdings) with the understanding that the deal will be modified to adhere to new newspaper-broadcast ownership rules that came about following recent court proceedings.

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The deal would see Terrier Media acquire all of the TV stations licensed to Northwest license subsidiaries for $384 million, as well as broadcast TV and radio stations owned by Cox for $3.1 billion.

When the U.S. Court of Appeals Third Circuit passed down its ruling in the Prometheus IV case dealing with vacated FCC broadcast ownership deregulation efforts, issues arose with the deal. According to the FCC, the parties amended the structure of the transactions to address any concerns that stemmed from the ruling.

However, the changes to the deal are not in place when it would now become official on Nov. 27, but the FCC has issued a 30-day window to allow all parties to become compliant.

“We recognize that the Television applicants may be in violation of certain broadcast multiple and cross-ownership rules following consummation as a result of the Prometheus IV decision,” the FCC’s Media Bureau wrote in its official decision. “However, we believe the unique circumstances of this case, specifically the Television Applicants’ specific commitments in the October 2019 Amendment and the timing of the Third Circuit’s decision, justify a brief 30-day period from consummation to come into compliance with these revised rules.”

Among the ways that the deal is expected to meet the new rules is for Northwest to surrender a license for one of its stations in Syracuse and Yuma not acquired by Terrier Media while also transferring all of the programming to the acquired station in each market. For Cox, Terrier says that it will change the publication frequency of three Cox newspapers in Ohio to three times a week.

The ownership rules weren’t the only objections to Apollo/Terrier’s acquisition of these stations. Multiple organizations, including Common Cause, filed comments saying how the acquisition would be against the public interest and hurt local TV coverage. However, citing its previous approval of the Nexstar-Tribune acquisition, the Media Bureau stated that it believes this acquisition would be in the public interest.

Read the FCC Media Bureau’s full order for more information.