WASHINGTON -- The staff of the Federal Communications Commission has recommended that the agency grant Tribune Co. waivers of so-called media ownership rules, paving the way for the company to emerge from its long-running bankruptcy.
The waivers -- the last major hurdle in the four-year case -- would take effect Friday as long as none of the five commissioners raise serious objections, according to a person at the FCC who wasn’t authorized to speak and therefore did not want to be identified.
No vote is required for the waivers to take effect.
The waivers would set the wheels in motion for the company to emerge from bankruptcy, something that would happen as soon as the new owners, a group led by senior creditors Oaktree Capital Management, Angelo Gordon & Co and JPMorgan Chase & Co., can complete the necessary paperwork.
The FCC staff is recommending that the agency grant a permanent waiver for Tribune’s ownership of the Chicago Tribune and WGN radio and television stations and that it give temporary, one-year waivers for the combined ownership of the Los Angeles Times and KTLA-TV Channel 5 and for similar arrangements in three other markets.
The FCC also is circulating among commissioners a proposal for new media ownership rules that would ease restrictions on consolidations among newspapers and TV and radio stations, according to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. That proposal is expected to come up for a vote at the commission’s next regular meeting.
Once the new rules are in effect, Tribune’s new owners could seek permanent waivers in the Los Angeles, New York, Hartford, Conn., and South Florida markets.
Tribune Vice President Shaun Sheehan declined to comment.