U.S.’s ‘Team Telecom’ OK with Standard General-Tegna Merger

Tegna Building in McLean, Va.
The FCC is still considering Standard General’s deal to merge with McLean, Va.-based Tegna. (Image credit: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The Federal Communications Commission has yet to complete its review of the proposed merger of Standard General and Tegna, but the deal has gotten the OK from “team telecom.”

That is the informal title of the interagency committee that reviews deals involving foreign participation in the U.S. communications market for national security and law enforcement concerns, if any.

Tegna, which owns 64 TV stations in 51 U.S. markets, agreed to be acquired by Standard General in February for $8.6 billion including debt. Tegna also owns multicast networks True Crime Network, Twist and Quest, as well as advanced-advertising company Premion.

The foreign ownership review is needed because slightly under half of the equity in Standard General is held through three Cayman Islands investment funds and one British Virgin Islands investment fund, though those funds are controlled by U.S. citizens.

The FCC allows up to 100% foreign ownership on a case-by-case basis, with at least a 25% foreign ownership stake triggering heightened scrutiny, including a team telecom review.

There were no such concerns, according to a letter informing the chief of the FCC's International Bureau, Tom Sullivan, that the Committee for the Assessment of Foreign Participation in the United States Telecommunications Services Sector (the aforementioned “team telecom”) had reviewed the deal application and had “no objection” to the FCC granting the merger, though on the other hand it was providing no recommendation one way of the other.

The committee reserves the right to review its decision if any risks to national security or law inforcement interests arise.

The FCC is currently on day 211 of its informal 180-day shot clock on reviewing mergers. ▪️

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.