Regions Northern Virginia

Justice Department asks for additional information on Gannett-Belo deal

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The U.S. Department of Justice has requested additional information and documents in connection with McLean-based Gannett Co.’s plans to acquire Dallas-based Belo Corp.

The companies announced the $2.2 billion deal in June. The acquisition is expected to create a broadcast “super group” at Gannett making the company the nation’s fourth-largest owner of major network affiliates reaching nearly a third of all U.S. households.

After acquiring Belo’s 20 stations, Gannett would own 43 television stations.

The Justice Department is reviewing the deal to see if it complies with federal antitrust law.

In a news release, Gannett and Belo noted that a “second request” for information is a “standard part of the DOJ review process.”

Such a request extends the waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, they said. The companies can’t close the deal until 30 days after they have complied with the request.

Gannett and Belo said they would respond promptly to the request and cooperate with the Justice Department.

The companies still expect to close the deal by the end of 2013.

In addition to antitrust review, the transaction is subject to approval by the Federal Communications Commission and holders of two-thirds of the voting power of Belo shares. 

Belo's directors and executive officers, who together control about 42 percent of the voting power of Belo's outstanding shares, have agreed to vote in favor of the deal.

Gannett currently owns 23 television stations. The company also is the largest newspaper publisher in U.S. in terms of circulation. Its newspapers include USA Today, the Arizona Republic (Phoenix), The Indianapolis Star, The Cincinnati Enquirer, The Des Moines Register and the Detroit Free Press.

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