Kim: Some Comments Opposing Standard General-Tegna Merger ‘Beyond the Pale’

Tegna
(Image credit: Tegna)

The founder of Standard General, whose  merger with Tegna and Apollo Global is under review with the FCC, lashed out at his critics this week, accusing opponents of filing comments with the FCC that are “beyond the pale, including sexist and racially charged ad hominem attacks.”

In an op-ed on Real Clear Policy.com, Soo Kim, a Korean-American citizen, defended his company’s proposed $8B takeover of Tegna, repeating the company’s claims that the merged company would help, not hurt local journalism, adding that the future is bright for local TV.  

“More than fifteen years ago, I founded Standard General, an investment manager focused on distressed and turnaround investing,” Kim said. “One of the industries where we have had our greatest successes is local broadcasting. Like many industries we invest in, conventional wisdom is that this industry’s best days are behind it. But that notion couldn’t be more wrong. The core product of a broadcasting station—local news—is more relevant than ever.”

Since announcing the deal in February, critics have claimed that the merged company would threaten local newsgathering by consolidation and jeopardize broadcasters’ public service obligations. In particular, NewsGuildCWA and the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians-CWA unions, in filings with the FCC, have claimed that the deal would reduce station-level staffing and slash newsroom payrolls, claims Standard General debunked in reply comments to the commission last week. 

In the op-ed, Kim repeated his criticism of NewsGuild, which claimed that the merger would not enhance ownership diversity, despite the fact that Kim is Korean-American. 

“NewsGuild and their lawyers have suggested that my own status as a member of a minority group does not equate to diversity in television station newsrooms or decision-making,” Kim said. “While this claim doesn’t dignify a response, it again ignores the facts. We have worked intentionally to ensure management teams are representative of employees and other stakeholders and works to be responsive to the public and the communities we serve. Our bona fides speak for themselves, and I am proud of our record.

“As Standard General has grown, we have put more than 20 women and people of color on our corporate board or in C-suite positions in public companies,” Kim continued. “Our investment in Tegna will create the largest minority-owned and female-led broadcast station group in U.S. history with strong diversity on the Board of Directors to facilitate our goal to ensure a full range of perspectives are represented among our corporate leadership.”

Kim added that despite the lengthy review process, Standard General believes the commission will side with them.

“I have not just talked the talk, I’ve walked the walk. I am confident that this is what regulators at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will conclude as  they complete their due diligence and review the Tegna acquisition on the facts, not the flimsy and personal attacks of business rivals.”

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.