PHOENIX (AP) -- The announcement Thursday that Gannett Co., the publisher of USA Today, is buying TV station owner Belo Corp. for about $1.5 billion means the media company would then own three Phoenix television stations and the state's largest newspaper, The Arizona Republic.
The deal, which has been approved by the boards of both companies, is expected to close by the end of 2013, and would make Gannett the fourth-largest broadcast group in the U.S.
It still needs approval from the Federal Communications Commission, which may require Gannett to sell some stations or newspapers it owns because of rules restricting one company from owning multiple media outlets in the same market. The companies said only five markets are potentially affected: Phoenix, St. Louis, Portland/Salem, Ore., Louisville, Ky., and Tucson, Ariz.
Gannett already owns NBC-affiliate KPNX and The Arizona Republic. The deal would give the company two more TV stations in Phoenix - KTVK and KASW CW6.
Joseph Russomanno, an associate professor at Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, said Gannett likely already has a solution in mind, at least to quell concerns in the Phoenix market, by seeking to divest in one or more of the entities there.
"When you have consolidated ownership like this, you're reducing diversity," Russomanno said, adding that the FCC would likely insist on divestment as a condition of approving the deal. "I'd be very surprised if Gannett hasn't already looked into this very deeply and may already have the answer or solution."
In Phoenix, Belo owns KTVK-TV (indepedent), KASW-TV (CW) and azfamily.com. In Tucson, Ariz., Belo owns KMSB-TV (Fox) and KTTU (MyNetworkTV).
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