Educational Media Foundation may be a noncommercial broadcaster but its pending $103.5 million deal to buy six stations from Cumulus Media was large enough to trigger an antitrust review by the Justice Department. It expectedly didn’t turn out to be much of a hurdle as the DOJ has cleared the path forward for the acquisition. Government attorneys have given the pending deal what’s known as “early termination,” which means both the DOJ and the Federal Trade Commission completed their review of the proposed buyout and determined not to take any enforcement action to block the deal. Under current federal guidelines any proposed sale valued at $90 million or more must go through what’s known as the Hart-Scott-Rodino antitrust review process.
EMF is on track to buy hot AC WPLJ New York (95.5); hot AC “Mix 107.3” WRQX Washington, DC: “Talk 106.7” WYAY Atlanta; “K-Fog” KFFG (97.7) San Jose (which simulcasts alternative KFOG San Francisco); hot AC “102.1 The Sound” WZAT Savannah, GA; and classic rock “The Rebel 105.9” WXTL Syracuse, NY.
The Federal Communications Commission last week also gave its approval of the transfer, despite some objections filed by listeners of WYAY’s format who lamented the loss of the conservative talk format and takeover of a Georgia station by a company based in California. But EMF successfully argued the notion that an out-of-station broadcaster cannot know the local needs of an FM in Atlanta is “ridiculous” and dictating a station’s format would run afoul of the Constitution.
Cumulus has said it hopes to close the transaction during the second quarter. If that doesn’t happen during the coming days, EMF is expected to assume operations of the six FMs on June 1 under a local marketing agreement. Once it takes over, EMF plans to install its contemporary Christian music formats “K-Love” and “Air 1” on the signals beginning next month.