- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 12, 2001

The News Corp. Ltd. and Chris-Craft Industries Inc. yesterday agreed to sell a television station in Salt Lake City, resolving antitrust concerns about the companies' $5.3 billion proposed merger, the Justice Department said.

The department's antitrust division, which filed a lawsuit yesterday in U.S. District Court in Washington to block the proposed transaction, said that without the divestiture, the deal would have been anti-competitive, resulting in higher prices for local or spot television advertising.

With the lawsuit, the department also filed a proposed consent decree that, if approved by the court, would resolve the suit and the department's competitive concerns.

Under the proposed consent agreement, Chris-Craft Industries would divest KTVX-TV, a Salt Lake City ABC affiliate.

Department officials said that according to the complaint, the proposed acquisition would have lessened competition substantially by combining News Corp.'s KSTU-TV, a Fox affiliate, with Chris-Craft's KTVX-TV, an ABC affiliate, two stations that compete head-to-head in the Salt Lake City market.

News Corp. would have owned two of the top four broadcast-television stations in the Salt Lake City market with approximately 40 percent of the broadcast-television spot-advertising revenue. Under the terms of the proposed consent decree, News Corp. is required to sell Chris-Craft's KTVX-TV to a suitable purchaser, approved by the Justice Department.

"Without this divestiture, the businesses that purchase broadcast-television spot advertising to reach customers in Salt Lake City would have lost a significant competitive alternative," said Constance K. Robinson, director of operations and merger enforcement of the department's antitrust division.

"This resolution ensures that those consumers will continue to have the benefits of competition, such as lower prices," she said.

News Corp. is headquartered in Sydney, Australia. Its subsidiary, Fox Television Holdings Inc., headquartered in Los Angeles, owns 23 broadcast-television stations in the United States. The company also owns cable and satellite distribution businesses and produces films for the television and motion picture industries. It reported net revenues of approximately $11 billion in 2000.

Chris-Craft, headquartered in New York City, owns 10 broadcast-television stations in the United States. The company reported television net revenues of approximately $492 million in 1999.

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