Standard General’s Soo Kim Brands Tegna Deal Criticism as Racist, Sexist

Soo Kim Standard General
Soo Kim (Image credit: Standard General)

Standard General’s long-haul effort to get Federal Communications Commission approval for its proposed purchase of Tegna and its TV stations is getting ugly.

Soo Kim, founding partner of Standard General, hit back hard at critics in a press release issued on BusinessWire Monday (Oct. 17).

Standard General said it was responding to “fact-free” and “repeated ad hominem attacks,” calling out criticisms from representatives of The NewsGuild-CWA, the union that has petitioned to block the deal, and saying they were racially charged and sexist.

Standard General said those attacks included that the deal represented an “anonymous foreign investment” in U.S. newsrooms; that the deal deserved extra scrutiny due to “China['s] increased tensions in the Taiwan Strait;” that the deal “does not promote ownership diversity as it is understood by the public interest and civil rights community, and by commission policy;” and that “Mr. Kim is not barred by his race from becoming a successful entrepreneur” and “Ms. McDermott [Standard Media CEO Deb McDermott, who would head up the combined media group] is not barred by her gender to be selected to run a large corporation.”

“To be clear, I am ethnically Korean. And I am a proud American citizen,” Kim said, adding that his critics were trying to define what constitutes a minority and diversity. As to the intimation he could be an agent of a foreign government, he said, “These fact-free statements are careless given that even a cursory inspection of the documents we have provided would show that I am currently the attributable owner of multiple radio and television stations today.”

Also: Frank Washington Pushes Diversity Argument for Standard General-Tegna Merger

Andrew Schwartzman, one of those representing the guild, said he would not respond to the press release and “whatever we have to say will be in what we file at the Commission.”

The NewsGuild-CWA has already made it clear it sees the deal as reducing jobs — McDermott has said there are no plans to do so — and increasing consumer prices by increasing the retransmission-consent fees multichannel video programming providers (MVPDs) pay for carriage of Standard General TV stations, an increase passed on to MVPD subscribers.

The FCC, which is currently on day 179 of its 180-day deal review shot clock, has twice asked for more information from Standard General about the deal, including its impact on retransmission consent and jobs.

“[W]e have submitted 3 million documents and over 12 million pages of records and have nothing but respect for the regulatory process,” Kim said in a statement. “We will continue to work collaboratively with FCC staff in their review of the facts of the proposed transaction.” ■

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.