Thursday, September 27, 2007

Zell Deal will get resistance from FCC commissioner

Michael Copps, Democratic FCC member who has previously expressed concern over three proposed media mergers including Zell's purchase of Tribune, said today he still isn't convinced the proposed deals are in the public interest.

As one of five FCC commissioners, Copps will cast a vote on whether the Sirius-XM merger and Tribune sale should be allowed to proceed. As things currently stand, there would be no vote by FCC commissioners on the News Corp. deal.

"The Tribune (sale) would be a steep climb for me, given my history of concerns over consolidation," Copps said. "I do not buy into this argument that you might be considering rules changes, ergo you can't apply the current rules to current pending applications."


Shaun Sheehan, vice president for regulatory affairs at Tribune Co., said the company was "fighting for its very survival and was dependent on the continuation of the waivers."
In the bigger scheme of things, media consolidation is a big, big Newspaper Guild concern. That said, Tribune may survive its regulatory challenge, and maybe it will eventually do okay under Zell. And maybe the employees will eventually share in future profits, risky as the ESOP is for them.

But if Tribune doesn't get the waivers, it would have to downsize itself. If the company's goal is to push "hyperlocalism" in its products, why not really go local and push localism in its properties — sell to local owners willing to buy. (end of post)

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