Illinois Congressmen Ask FCC to Grant Tribune Co. Cross-Ownership Waivers

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By: E&P Staff

A bipartisan group of Illinois lawmakers think Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules banning same-market ownership of television and newspapers should not be allowed to derail Tribune Co.’s $8.2 billion deal to be taken private.

In a May 18 letter to FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, 14 members of Illinois’ 21-person congressional delegation urged him to give his “personal attention” to Tribune’s request for waivers from the rules.

The waivers are critical to the deal, led by Chicago real estate mogul Sam Zell, to take Tribune private because it depends on transferring broadcast licenses to the new owner, an Employee Stock Option Plan.

Right now, Tribune is operating newspapers and television stations under temporary waivers to the cross-ownership ban on same-market ownership of broadcast and newspapers in New York City; Los Angeles; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; and Hartford. Tribune earlier this month formally requested FCC waivers under its proposed new ownership.

Among those signing the May 18 letter to FCC Chairman Kevin Martin was former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, a Republican, and Illinois’ senior senator, Dick Durbin, a Democrat. Sen. Barack Obama, who is running for the Democratic presidential nominee, did not sign the letter.

“We believe that prompt consideration of the merits of the Tribune Company applications is in the public interest and would be very grateful if you would give this matter your personal attention and act upon these applications in a timely fashion,” the members wrote.

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