Ruling On St. Louis TV Station May Slow ‘Sidecar’ Deals

KMOV will be sold to former executive of parent Belo Corp. as Belo mergers with Gannett Co. in a $2.2 billion deal. | Photo Courtesy of Creative Commons
The Justice Department ruled that Gannett must find an independent buyer for KMOV. | Photo Courtesy of Creative Commons

The Justice Department’s ruling that Gannett must find an independent buyer for KMOV in St. Louis could slow sidecar deals, an ownership structure that’s allowed many television companies to get around the Federal Communications Commission’s market-concentration rules.

The FCC has greenlighted dozens of sidecar deals, in which a nominally independent owner allows a competitor to control station operations. Gannett owns KSDK (Channel 5), and is buying Belo, the owner of KMOV (Channel 4).

The merger agreement called for Jack Sander, a former Belo executive, to own KMOV and hire Gannett for certain services. Gannett also was to provide a loan guarantee. The proposed ties were actually looser than in many sidecar agreements — the stations’ newscasts and advertising sales would have been kept separate — but they were too close for the Justice Department.

Read more from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch


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