Tribune Company (NYSE:TRB) today announced that the Federal Communications Commission has approved the transfer of its broadcasting licenses and the extension of its cross-ownership waivers in markets where the company owns both a television station and a newspaper. Tribune’s going-private transaction is expected to close by year end following satisfaction of the remaining closing conditions, including the receipt of a solvency opinion and completion of the committed financing.
“We appreciate today’s action by the FCC, which allows our transaction to move forward,” said Dennis FitzSimons, Tribune chairman, president and chief executive officer. “We look forward to implementing the new ownership structure that will enable us to focus all of our energy and resources on Tribune’s future.”
On April 2, 2007, Tribune announced its intention to become a private company, owned 100 percent by an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP). When the transaction closes, Sam Zell’s investment in the company will increase to $315 million and he will become chairman of Tribune’s board of directors.
To complete the transaction, Tribune sought FCC approval to transfer the operating licenses of its broadcast stations to new ownership. The company also asked for an extension of existing waivers of the FCC’s cross-ownership rule in New York, Los Angeles, Hartford and South Florida — markets in which Tribune operates both a newspaper and television station. The waivers granted today are temporary, pending the outcome of the FCC’s ongoing review of media ownership rules. In Chicago, the company will be exempt from cross-ownership restrictions through a permanent waiver provision.