Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Nexstar agreed Wednesday morning to divest 19 of its local TV stations in 15 markets across the country in order to gain regulatory approval in its deal to acquire Tribune Media.

Why it matters: Regulators have rules about how many stations one operator can own in a single market, so that they can ensure a diversity of voices exists in each community. Nexstar is divesting these stations to get the merger approved under these rules.

Details: The total sale amounts to $1.32 billion.

  • TEGNA Inc. will acquire 11 stations in 8 markets for $740 million and the E.W. Scripps Company will acquire 8 stations in seven markets for $580 million.
  • Nexstar says it plans to use the proceeds from this sale to reduce debt.

Between the lines: Nexstar's proposed $4.1 billion acquisition deal for Tribune Company would make it the country's largest owner of local television stations.

  • Some TV network distributors like Dish and consumer advocates are protesting the merger, arguing it would give Nexstar too much leverage in pricing negotiations and dominance over local television.

The big picture: Changes in decades-old broadcasting rules, combined with new types of competition in news and entertainment, are creating a drama-filled free-for-all as local U.S. broadcasters consolidate.

  • This deal comes months after Sinclair Broadcast Group's $3.9 billion deal bid for Tribune Media fell through, when Sinclair was accused of lying to regulators.
  • Nexstar says the deal with Tribune is expected to close later this year.

What’s next: Nexstar says it remains engaged in active negotiations to divest two stations in Indianapolis, Ind.

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Gulf Coast braces for Zeta after storm strengthens into hurricane

Hurricane Zeta's forecast path. Photo: National Hurricane Center

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) declared a state of emergency Monday as Zeta strengthened into a hurricane and threatened Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula as it moved towards the U.S. Gulf Coast.

The state of play: Zeta was expected to make landfall on the northern part of the Yucatan Peninsula Monday night, bringing with it a "dangerous storm surge" and "heavy rainfall" as it moved into the Gulf of Mexico, the National Hurricane Service said.

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Politics: The swing states where the pandemic is raging — Pence no longer expected to attend Barrett confirmation vote after COVID exposure.
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Supreme Court rejects request to extend Wisconsin absentee ballot deadline

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court in a 5-3 decision Monday rejected an effort by Wisconsin Democrats and civil rights groups to extend the state's deadline for counting absentee ballots to six days after Election Day, as long as they were postmarked by Nov. 3.

Why it matters: All ballots must now be received by 8 p.m. on Election Day in Wisconsin, a critical swing state in the presidential election.