Tegna-Nexstar Station Spin-Off Antitrust Call Still AWOL

Expected early antitrust review termination has yet to surface
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U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ)

Those looking for Justice's decision on whether it has any antitrust issues with Tegna's purchase of Nexstar spin-off stations will have to wait a little longer.

That is because for the sixth business day in a row the Federal Trade Commission has issued no early termination notices on any deal, an unusual hiatus for such announcements.

Those are the notifications that a merger submitted for Hart-Scott-Rodino antitrust review will not be blocked or conditioned and so has received an early end to that review. It is possible that the deal isn't getting an early termination, meaning Justice has some issues, but that would seem unlikely given the speed at which an associated Nexstar-related spin-off got the green light from Justice.

Justice and the FTC divvy up the reviews, with Justice handling communications mergers but FTC announcing the terminations--which include all mergers over a certain dollar threshold ($90 million)--without identifying who was looking at what.

There is no schedule for when reviews of mergers submitted to the government get early termination if there are found to be no antitrust issues. But Scripps' purchase of Nexstar stations, the other recipient of Nexstar's Tribune merger-related station divestitures, were announced March 21 and got early termination of their antitrust review less than four weeks later. The Tegna spin-off deal was announced in Mid-March as well.

An FTC spokesperson did not know why there had been no early termination notices for more than a week, and after polling officials there said they would have no comment.

The FCC still has to complete its public interest review of the deals. 

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