The Federal Communications Commission has ordered Gannett Co. to report any future role in the communications company by American Finanical Corp. or its chairman, Carl Lindner.
In a letter to Gannett sent by the regulatory agency on Monday, the Rochester-based newspaper and broadcasting firm was told that the FCC believes that Lindner currently "occupies no official position and has no controlling interest in Gannett."
Therefore, the agency added, it has reaffirmed its earlier approval of the merger of Gannett and Combined Communications Corp., which came under new staff review earlier this month when the Securities and Exchange Commission filed a major case against American Financial and Linder, alleging violation of federal securities and fraud laws.
The American Financial case became relevant because the Cincinnati film and Lindner owned a substantial portion of Combined Communications stock, and Lindner since has become the largest individual owner of Gannett stock.
Reviewing the recent SEC case, the FCC told Gannett "we are therefore confronted with a situation in which a minority, but nevertheless large, stockholder in Gannett has been involved in activities of concern to the SEC . . .
"We do view with concern the past pattern of behavior of Lindner and AFC as manifested by the consent decree mentioned . . . ," the FCC added, nothing that law requires it to consider "civil and criminal violations of federal and state laws as they impinge the character and qualifications of licensees on a case-by-case basis."
As a result of the merger, Gannett now controls 19 broadcast properties across the country.