Standard General Tries, Tries Again With FCC on Tegna Deal
Grabs at what it calls suggestion FCC could find way to ‘yes’ on station-group merger
Standard General said the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau has “suggested” the company “attempt to resolve remaining concerns to allow the transaction“ — its purchase of Tegna’s TV stations — “to move forward,” which it said it is definitely trying to do.
Hedge fund Standard General’s proposed $8.6 billion purchase of Tegna’s TV stations and other media assets was designated for hearing by the Federal Communications Commission’s Media Bureau before an administrative law judge (ALJ) over concerns about retransmission consent fees and potential job losses, including in news.
Standard General’s invocation of the Enforcement Bureau suggestion was a reference to a meeting with FCC officials last week. It said Wednesday (May 17) that it was taking steps to address the issues of “the potential for increased retransmission consent fees from after-acquired clauses and the impact [of the deal] on localism” and plans to get back to the FCC on Thursday.
Financing for the deal has a May 22 deadline, so Standard General is trying hard to get a decision from the FCC — preferably a yes — by then.
Standard General is providing some new info to the FCC and the public as part of that effort, it said, including making public the depositions it gave to the Justice Department related to jobs and retrans. Justice found no reason to challenge the deal on antitrust grounds, but the FCC’s review goes beyond that to whether the deal meets the public interest standard, a standard that is open to interpretation.
It also pointed out that Comcast, Tegna’s biggest customer among multichannel video programming distributors, as well as other MVPDs, have agreed to Standard General’s promise to waive its after-acquired clause rights. Those clauses would allow Standard General to raise retrans rates for Tegna stations to those of its current [Cox Media] stations where applicable.
“We remain available to answer any and all questions the FCC may have, but, in response to comments made during our meetings on Friday, we have provided additional information to the commission with the hope that they will move quickly to a vote,” Standard General partner Soo Kim said.
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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.