U.S. requires divestitures in Gray Television, Raycom merger

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department said on Friday it would require Gray Television Inc GTN.N and privately held broadcaster Raycom Media Inc to divest broadcast stations in nine markets as a condition for their $3.6 billion merger.

“Without the required divestitures, Gray’s merger with Raycom threatens serious competitive harm to cable subscribers and small businesses,” Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division said in a statement.

At the time the deal was announced in June, the two companies had a combined 142 full-power television stations in 92 markets, reaching about 24 percent of total U.S. television households.

The divestiture conditions were included in a proposed settlement the Antitrust Division filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia along with a lawsuit seeking to block the merger, the Justice Department statement said.

The settlement, if approved by the court, would require divestitures in Knoxville, Tennessee; Toledo, Ohio; Waco–Temple–Bryan, Texas; Tallahassee, Florida–Thomasville, Georgia; Augusta, Georgia; Odessa-Midland, Texas; Panama City, Florida; Albany, Georgia; and Dothan, Alabama.

Reporting by Mohammad Zargham; Editing by Eric Beech and Chris Reese