Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Teamsters to FCC: Not So Fast on Tribune TV Licenses!

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Teamsters to FCC: Not So Fast on Tribune TV Licenses!

Article excerpt

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters on Tuesday asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to reconsider its decision to grant Tribune Co. waivers from cross-ownership rule that the Chicago media giant needs to go private by the end of the year.

Teamsters represent about 2,000 employees across the company, and have been staunch opponents of Chicago real estate magnate Sam Zell's $8.2 billion deal to take Tribune private using an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP).

On a vote along party lines, the FCC decided 3-2 to grant Tribune temporary waivers of the cross-ownership rules to allow the television licenses in four markets where it also publishes a daily newspaper to be transferred to the new ownership. The Republican majority also granted a permanent cross-ownership waiver to the licenses for WGN-TV and WGN-AM in Chicago, where Tribune publishes its flagship Chicago Tribune.

Tribune lobbied furiously to get the waivers in time to complete the going-private deal by the end of this year. Without the waivers they would have faced increased taxes, plus the possibility of higher financing charges.

The Teamsters in its filing argues the buyout structure violates an FCC requirement that that stations be controlled by their owners -- "and not by Sam Zell, a trust established for the benefit of members of his family, and a pre-selected ESOP trustee. …

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