Sinclair Broadcasting’s path to purchasing Tribune Media has gotten a little easier. The FCC has rescinded several rules which would have stood in the way of the acquisition, potentially putting Sinclair in control of 223 TV stations, covering 72 percent of U.S. households. One of the repealed rules kept companies from owning a daily newspaper and a TV station in the same media market. A second blocked TV stations in the same market from merging with each other if the combination would leave fewer than eight independently owned stations in that market. The FCC also took aim at rules restricting the number of TV and radio stations any media company could simultaneously own in one market. The Republican-dominated FCC approved the changes in a 3-2 vote along party lines. The Democratic commissioners, as well as other critics, say that getting rid of these rules is a blow to media diversity.
Charles G. and David H. Koch are said to be partially bankrolling Meredith’s third attempt to purchase all or part of Time Inc. According to the New York Times, the billionaire brothers, who are best known for their financial support of conservative causes, have tentatively agreed to back up Meredith’s offer for Time Inc. with more than $500 million in equity. Meredith’s attempts to purchase titles published by Time Inc. go back to 2013, when discussions to merge its magazines with all of the Time Warner publications except for Sports Illustrated, Time, Money and Fortune came up short. Earlier this year, a potential acquisition of Time Inc. by Meredith was scuttled when the two companies could not agree on a price. The Koch brothers have also made previous attempts at media acquisitions, most notably a 2013 effort to purchase what was then the Tribune Company (now Tronc). Time Inc. saw its revenue fall by nine percent in the third quarter, with magazine revenues down 14 percent from the same period in 2016. News of the potential sale however, led to a 26 percent jump in early trading Thursday. Meredith also benefited from the reports, with its share price rising eight percent.
Reader-funded news website Tarbell.org has launched with an investigative series that claims the pharmaceutical industry keeps drug prices high through influencing Congress, as well as by co-opting key advocacy groups and gaming drug laws and the patent system to protect its monopolies. The stories include a look at trade association The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, a listing of contributions made by pharmaceutical and health-product companies to Congressional campaigns and a piece on Alex Azar, who recently resigned as head of drug company Eli Lilly and is now Trump’s nominee to head the Department of Health and Human Services. Founded by author and former head of communications for CIGNA Wendell Potter, Tarbell is depending on reader support to help it produce “journalism that can’t be co-opted by special interests.”