The wheels have begun to turn on the merger of CBS Radio and Entercom.
On March 20, Entercom Communications and CBS Corp. sought formal approval from the Federal Communications Commission to transfer control and assignment of certain licenses.
The FCC is now asking for public comments about the proposed merger, and those hoping to make their voice heard have until May 1 to submit a formal petition with the FCC.
Under the proposal, CBS Radio will be formally separated from its parent and will merge with an Entercom subsidiary. There are many steps in between, including the need to divest stations in seven radio markets in an effort to comply with the commission’s current ownership caps. Based on that process, the FCC may set up an additional window for public comments on the issue.
The proposed $2.5 billion deal involves CBS Radio spinning off its 29 AM and 88 FM stations to Entercom. The massive deal accounted for 90% of U.S. broadcast station mergers and acquisitions in the first quarter of 2017, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.
In its public notice announcement, the FCC revealed additional details, such as the fact that current CBS Board Chairman, President and CEO Leslie Moonves and current CBS Chief Operating Officer Joseph Ianniello will serve as Entercom directors for a maximum of six months following the closing of the deal.
Since they will hold attributable interests in both the television stations owned by CBS and the radio stations owned by Entercom during this period (resulting in a violation of the radio-television cross-ownership limits), Entercom and CBS requested a temporary waiver of the FCC’s cross-ownership rules while Moonves and Ianniello serve on the Entercom board.
The merger, subsequent paperwork and expected influx of comments prompted the FCC to give the proceeding its own docket number — MB Docket No. 17-85 — and say that it will consider oral and written ex parte presentations to the commission, preferably through the FCC’s Electronic Comment Filing System, though paper copies are acceptable too. Filers should make sure to reference MB Docket No. 17-85.
After the initial May 1 deadline, filers looking to submit an opposition to the initial petitions must do so by May 11. Replies must be filed no later than May 18.
The list of impacted stations can be found here.