FCC Approval of Nexstar-Tribune Ignores Public Interest Harms and Turns Blind Eye Toward Citizen Participation in Merger Proceedings

Today, the Federal Communications Commission approved the proposed merger of Nexstar Media Group and Tribune Media Company. The approval gives Nexstar control of 144 stations in 115 markets, creating the largest broadcast conglomerate in the nation. Common Cause filed a petition to deny formally opposing the merger.

Statement of Michael Copps, Former FCC Commissioner and Common Cause Special Advisor

“The FCC has a mandate to promote localism, competition, and diversity in broadcasting – values that ensure the public interest is served over our airwaves. But the FCC’s approval of the Nexstar-Tribune merger ignores these values in favor of further consolidating a marketplace that’s already highly consolidated.  The approval gives Nexstar an unprecedented amount of control of our local media. Communities can expect to see less local news, less deep-dive investigative reporting, and less locally-originated programming. Local news continues to play a critical role in our democracy, but the approval of this deal only diminishes that role.

“This decision also comes at a time when our nation is facing a crisis in journalism. Thousands of journalists have been laid off and newsrooms across the country have been shuttered.  The marketplace for news is indeed changing with new technologies. But approving a merger of this magnitude does nothing to address the challenges of the news industry or provide communities with robust news and information to participate in our democracy.

“In addition to further magnifying the dangers of consolidation, the FCC creates unwarranted obstacles toward citizen participation in merger proceedings. Past precedent at the Commission has allowed organizations to fully participate in merger proceedings by showing at least one of its members would be harmed. By changing course, the majority at the FCC has made it clear it does not want to hear from the public.  The public airwaves belong to the people. Rather than turning a blind eye to input from the public, the FCC should be encouraging more public participation in merger proceedings.”

To view this statement online, click here.