The Federal Communications Commission has reportedly decided to approve the $5.35 billion acquisition of media group Chris-Craft Industries by Fox Television Stations, creating America’s biggest TV group.

Although the purchase means Fox will violate several FCC rules, the watchdog, say insiders, decided to pass the purchase with barely any conditions, granting waivers to its media ownership regulations.

The acquisition of Chris-Craft’s ten TV stations will give Fox control of a newspaper and two TV companies in New York, breaking FCC prohibitions on owning television broadcasters and papers in the same market and possessing two of the top four TV broadcasters in one area. Fox will also reach 41% of US households following the purchase, ahead of the current limit of 35%.

The 35% threshold is currently under legal challenge, and will not be enforced in the case of Fox until a ruling has been made. Should the limit be upheld by the court, the FCC will, it is thought, grant the media group twelve months to reduce its reach to 35%. Fox will also be given two years to meet the other ownership limitations the Chris-Craft purchase violates.

It has taken almost a year for the FCC to clear the deal, partly thanks to political bickering between members. The final decision is thought to have split the commission 3–2 along party lines in favour of the Republicans.

The FCC is expected to announce the decision as early as today.

News source: Wall Street Journal