Democratic Adviser Cedric Richmond Rips Into FCC’s Standard General-Tegna Order

Cedric Richmond
Cedric Richmond (Image credit: Erin Scott/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The FCC’s Media Bureau, with the backing of its Democratic chair, is at odds with the Biden administration's efforts to promote diversity, equity and inclusion said Cedric Richmond, senior adviser to the Democratic National Committee and former senior adviser to President Joe Biden.

In an op-ed in the Baltimore Sun Wednesday (March 29), Richmond lambasted the Federal Communications Commission for designating Standard General’s $8.6 billion acquisiton of station group Tegna for hearing, saying that to do so was "cav[ing] to special interests who have sought to pit minority groups against each other in an effort to block one of the biggest opportunities in history to advance media ownership diversity in our country."

Also Read: Standard General, Tegna Ask Court to Review FCC Order

A hearing designation is essentially a death sentence for the transaction because it pushes an FCC decision beyond the May 22 cutoff date for the deal’s funding.

Standard General’s general partner is Soo Kim, a Korean immigrant, and the CEO of Standard Media, which would be in charge of Tegna stations, is Deb McDermott.

Richmond also said the deal is an opportunity to help make the people producing the news as diverse as the audience, calling McDermott “an historic addition to the field — bringing female leadership to a traditionally male-dominated industry.”

McDermott has already been running stations, but this would expand her purview by Tegna's 50-plus stations.

“It’s an exciting opportunity,” Richmond wrote. “But rather than celebrating this thrilling moment, deal critics have resorted to the ugliest of rhetoric. One opponent publicly said this deal ‘does not promote ownership diversity as it is understood by the public-interest and civil-rights community.’ The clear implication is that this person mistakenly believes that the civil rights community does not view Asian-Americans as contributing to diversity. That sentiment echoes the divide and conquer tactics that have long been used by defenders of the status quo. Minority communities must not be pitted against each other in this way.”

Added Richmond: “The FCC’s failure to seize this opportunity to advance minority media ownership is beyond disappointing. From day one, the Biden-Harris administration has taken bold action to enhance diversity, equity and inclusion throughout government. Undermining the attempt by a minority business leader to acquire a major media property, and doing so in a way that is totally unprecedented, is, on its face, at odds with the administration’s approach and core values.”

Standard General and Tegna have taken the FCC to court over the Media Bureau hearing designation, arguing that it is an unconstitutional order. ■

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.