WASHINGTON, D.C.—Common Cause and UCC Media Justice have filed a petition with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) asking the agency to deny the proposed $8.6 billion merger of Apollo Global Management, Standard General L.P., and Tegna.
If approved Standard General would acquire Tegna’s 61 full power television stations and two radio stations across 50 markets. Apollo will control the licenses of 31 full-power television stations in 26 markets and 54 radio stations in 11 radio markets.
In opposing the deal, the petition noted that Standard General and Apollo have already swallowed smaller broadcast groups and that the Tegna deal would lead to greater consolidation in the marketplace, leading to reporter layoffs, price hikes, and problems related to media consolidation.
“This merger represents yet another opportunity by private equity and hedge funds to take over America’s newsrooms,” said Yosef Getachew, Common Cause Media & Democracy Program director. “Local news is critical to a functioning democracy particularly for communities of color and other marginalized groups who are more likely to rely on over-the-air programming for news and information than other communications channels. But as we’ve seen, private equity’s ownership of local media has led to reporter layoffs and consolidated newsrooms, unable to provide communities with the news and information they need to civically engage and hold government accountable.”
“Standard General and Apollo have failed to provide any evidence that this merger won’t lead to dire consequences for our local media ecosystem,” Getachew continued. “Rather, these companies have made their business intentions clear to downsize Tegna’s stations post transaction and potentially displace local programming with national programming.”
The petition also complained that the companies have structured the deal to take advantage of contractual arrangements that would ultimately lead to price hikes for pay television subscribers at a time when households are facing the consequences of inflation in their pocketbooks.
“With the broadcast market already highly consolidated with a handful of conglomerates owning much of our local media, the FCC should block this merger and send a message to the predatory hedge funds looking to make a quick buck by tearing down one of the key pillars to our democracy,” Getachew said.
The full petition is available here.
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George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.