Sam Zell’s $8.2-billion bid to take the Tribune Company private got a boost yesterday from FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, who green-lighted a two-year exemption on rules barring ownership of newspapers and broadcast stations in the same market. Zell needs waivers for five markets in which the Tribune has dual ownership, reports the Los Angeles Times. The FCC could act as soon as tomorrow, and the deal could close by year’s end.
Martin has proposed a broader plan to lift the cross-ownership ban in the nation's top 20 markets, but waiting for the Dec. 18 vote would push the Trib deal into next year. Tribune’s stock gained 10% to $30 yesterday, still 12% below the $34 buyout price. Tribune’s attempt to sell the Chicago Cubs, expected to draw $1 billion, hasn’t moved forward because Tribune won’t release financial details on the team until January.