WASHINGTON Federal regulators yesterday gave the green light to a private-equity deal that will take radio giant Clear Channel private and result in the sale of 42 stations.
While the FCC unanimously approved the $20 billion deal, the panel's two Democrats expressed concerns that the agency wasn't diligent enough in examining the pact.
Senior Democrat Michael Copps complained that the commission failed to examine the effect that private-equity purchases like the one being engineered by Bain Capital and Thomas H. Lee Partners, which also is one of the owners of Adweek's parent the Nielsen Co., have on the public.
"I have repeatedly called for the commission to examine the potential impact of private equity on our ability to ensure that broadcast licensees protect, serve and sustain the public interest," he said. "Unfortunately, that has not happened, and nothing in today's order indicates that the commission has had a change of heart.
"Instead, we once again close our eyes and pretend that nothing has changed—as if these new entities are no different than our traditional broadcast licensees," Copps added. "And there are those who accuse me of living in the past."
Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein worried that the panel had missed an opportunity to explore large station groups' ability to dominate local advertising markets.