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Court's FCC Ruling May Delay Univision Deal

September 04, 2003|Jube Shiver Jr. | Times Staff Writer

Wednesday's federal court ruling temporarily blocking the Federal Communications Commission's media ownership rules could further postpone the agency's long-delayed decision on Univision Communications Inc.'s $2.3-billion acquisition of Dallas-based Hispanic Broadcasting Corp., according to people familiar with the situation.

At least two of the FCC's five commissioners already have voted to approve the deal. It would combine Los Angeles-based Univision, the nation's largest Spanish-TV broadcaster with 53 stations, and HBC, the country's No. 1 Spanish-language radio broadcaster with more than 55 stations.

But FCC Chairman Michael K. Powell is said to be negotiating to win bipartisan support for the transaction by getting at least one of the agency's two Democrats to support it.

One FCC staff member and an outside lawyer who opposed the deal agreed Wednesday that further delay was now likely.

"It probably should have the effect of deferring any decision for a time," said Washington lawyer Philip L. Verveer, who represents Spanish Broadcasting Inc., a Univision rival.

The FCC staff member, who asked not to be identified, said agency lawyers may revise language in any final order approving the Univision deal. That step would be intended to ensure that it doesn't run afoul of concerns the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia raised in granting Wednesday's stay, which halted implementation of new ownership rules that were to have gone into effect today.

Univision spokeswoman Stephanie Pillersdorf declined to comment.

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