Standard General Files Brief Asking Court To Force FCC To Rule on Tegna Deal

The Tegna Inc. headquarters stands in McLean, Virginia, U.S., on Friday, March, 13, 2020. Comedian and TV producer Byron Allen has made a $20-a-share, all-cash offer for Tegna in a deal that values the TV station owner at $8.5 billion, including debt, according to a person familiar with the situation.
(Image credit: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Standard General and Tegna filed their reply brief asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to force the Federal Communications Commission to rule in their proposed merger before financing expires on May 22, effectively killing the deal.

The FCC and its Media Bureau have been examining the deal since last February, an unprecedentedly lengthy review and twice as long as the FCC’s guidelines. 

In February, the Media Bureau designated that the deal be sent for a hearing by an administrative law judge, a process likely to take many more months. Standard General maintains that decision improperly doomed the deal before a vote by the FCC.

Standard General appealed to the court, and part of its procedural argument was dismissed

Opponents of the transaction — The NewsGuild-CWA; the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians-CWA; Common Cause; and the United Church of Christ, OC Inc. — and the FCC have filed their briefs in the case. Standard General and Tegna has an opportunity to reply before the case is decided.

Also Read: Standard General’s Soo Kim: FCC Hearing Designation Is Tegna Deal ‘Kill Shot’

In its filing, Standard General asks that the court grant its petition and a writ of mandamus ordering the commission to rule on the application by April 28.

“The FCC has shown that it is content to let the Media Bureau destroy this deal, a course that prevents significant gains for diversity and labor while needlessly depriving the public of the transaction’s innumerable benefits,” Soo Kim, founding partner of Standard General, said. 

“The transaction has been put under unprecedented scrutiny, and not once during its nearly year-long review did the Media Bureau raise concerns with the transaction — much less discuss with the transaction parties how such concerns might be addressed,“ Kim said. We continue to urge the Court to look at the facts and compel the FCC to follow its own procedural norms by putting the deal to a vote.” 

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.