FCC Judge Upholds Hearing Designation Order for Standard General-Tegna Merger

(Image credit: Tegna)

WASHINGTON—An administrative law judge with the Federal Communications Commission has upheld a decision by the Media Bureau to have the Standard General-Tegna merger sent for judicial review before the commission votes on the matter. Last month, the Bureau issued a hearing designation order to send the matter to an FCC judge after it said it could not conclude whether Standard General’s $8.6 billion takeover (backed by hedge fund Apollo Global Management) was in the public interest. 

Over the past 12 months, since the merger was proposed, Standard General has vigorously argued that the merger would be in the public interest by making a combined broadcast group more competitive and allow it to invest in more resources for local news. Opponents, including Common Cause and unions, have said the merger would lead to more consolidation, resulting in job cuts and reduced focus on local issues. 

Standard General and Tegna had told the judge, Jane Halprin, that the hearing designation order exceeded the FCC’s authority and had instead wanted the merger to be put to a full FCC vote.

A Standard General spokesperson told TheDesk.net that they disagreed with the decision but would continue to push for approval. 

“We remain committed to seeking all available avenues to both vindicate our rights, and promote the public interest which is best served through a full commission vote to approve this transaction which any three commissioners can request,” the spokesperson said. “We urge the FCC to act swiftly, since — in this matter — a decision delayed is a decision denied.”

Tom Butts

Tom has covered the broadcast technology market for the past 25 years, including three years handling member communications for the National Association of Broadcasters followed by a year as editor of Video Technology News and DTV Business executive newsletters for Phillips Publishing. In 1999 he launched digitalbroadcasting.com for internet B2B portal Verticalnet. He is also a charter member of the CTA's Academy of Digital TV Pioneers. Since 2001, he has been editor-in-chief of TV Tech (www.tvtech.com), the leading source of news and information on broadcast and related media technology and is a frequent contributor and moderator to the brand’s Tech Leadership events.