FCC gives more time to complete sale of newspapers

Dayton Daily News, Springfield News-Sun and Journal-News will continue to print seven days a week while awaiting sale

The Federal Communications Commission has granted a 60-day extension to Cox Media Group, allowing the company to continue publishing its three Ohio papers - the Dayton Daily News, Springfield News-Sun and Journal-News - seven days a week.

Cox Media Group expects to have a buyer for its three Ohio newspapers within 60 days, a move that will provide a long-term solution, said Rob Rohr, market vice president of CMG’s Dayton properties.

“This is fantastic news for our employees, our customers and the communities that our newspapers serve,” Rohr said. “This would not have been possible without the thousands of hours of hard work by Cox Media Group leadership with the full support of Apollo Global Management’s team. It’s thanks to them that the FCC enabled us to have more time to find a long-term solution for our newspapers.”

RELATED: Company statement on FCC extension

Last year, Cox Enterprises Inc. announced it was selling most of its media outlets, including those in Dayton, to Apollo Global Management. Apollo created a media buying entity called Terrier Media, but the media businesses themselves will continue to operate under the name Cox Media Group.

At the time CEI put its media businesses up for sale, FCC rules allowed one company to own all these media outlets. WHIO-TV, the Dayton Daily News, K99.1 FM and WHIO Radio have operated as one business for a decade, housed in the same building on Main Street in Dayton, and have been owned by the same company for more than 60 years. That joint ownership was grandfathered in.

But in October 2019, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the FCC’s rules were invalid, and it reinstated previous rules that prohibit one company from owning both the dominant broadcast media and a daily newspaper in the same market.

In November, the FCC approved the CEI-Apollo sale, but it required Apollo to reduce the daily newspapers to three print days a week to comply with the court’s ruling. It gave Apollo until Jan. 16 to implement the three-day schedule. On Tuesday, the FCC extended that deadline until March 16.

“We find that it is in the public interest to grant the extension request,” the FCC said in a letter to Terrier Media (operating as Cox Media Group). “Specifically, we find that allowing Terrier Media to operate the Dayton newspapers through March 16, 2020, will advance the Commission’s goal of localism by preserving the ability of the Dayton newspapers to maintain continuous daily readership until a buyer for the Dayton newspapers is finalized.”

Cox Media Group said it expects to have a buyer before the March 16 deadline.

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