Media General Settles Antitrust Claims to Seal LIN Deal

Media General Inc. will sell a group of television stations to settle U.S. claims that its $1.5 billion purchase of LIN Media LLC is anticompetitive, the government said.

The merger would lessen competition for broadcast television spot advertising without the divestitures, the Justice Department’s antitrust division said in a statement today.

“This competition benefits advertisers and ultimately consumers,” said Bill Baer, the head of the antitrust division.

The transaction was announced in March amid U.S. television acquisitions by companies including Gannett Co. seeking to take advantage of climbing fees from cable providers. Payments by cable companies to carry local broadcasts have made the business more lucrative, providing a new source of revenue on top of ad sales.

Media General, based in Richmond, Virginia, agreed to sell stations serving markets in Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Wisconsin, the U.S. said.

Media General said in a statement it’s pleased with the settlement.

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