Standard General Offers New Assurances on Retransmission Negotiations

(Image credit: Tegna)

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Faced with ongoing concerns that the proposed $8.6 billion deal for Tegna would give Standard General undo power in retransmission consent negotiations with pay TV providers, Standard General has issued a statement saying  “we have committed to waive certain contractual rights we would have had as a result of the transaction. This commitment further demonstrates the public interest benefits of the transaction.”

Standard General's Soo Kim also filed a letter on Dec. 16 with the FCC giving up those rights. 

In the statement the company also explained that: “Our proposed acquisition of TEGNA has been the subject of regulatory review that continues into the phase where the purchase price is increasing every day. The regulatory authorities have expressed concerns to us that our transaction could result in negative impacts on cable and satellite TV consumers in an environment where the government has a heightened focus on inflation.”

Opponents of the deal have expressed concerns that the deal would, among other problems, increase retransmission fees and increase the cost of pay TV for consumers. 

More specifically they have worried that the deal has been structured so that Standard General and the private equity group Apollo Global Management would be able to work together to hike retransmission agreements. 

If the deal is approved, Cox Media Group, which is owned by Apollo, will acquire Tegna stations in Austin (KVUE), Dallas (WFAA and KMPX) and Houston (KHOU and KTBU) from Standard General and CMG and funds managed by affiliates of Apollo Global Management would hold non voting securities in the company.

Standard General has repeatedly denied that those financial ties would result in any coordination in retransmission consent negotiations. 

In a letter filed Dec. 16 with the FCC, Standard General’s Soo Kim stressed that “as Standard General has previously stated, any impact of the Transactions on the  retransmission consent fees payable by multichannel video programming distributors  (“MVPDs”) is not central to Standard General’s thesis for the proposed Transactions.  Accordingly, in light of the cost of continued delay to the closing of the Transactions (the  “Closing”), consistent with the terms of the Agreement and Plan of Merger, dated February 22,  2022, Standard General hereby: 

"(1) voluntarily and irrevocably waives enforcement or other application of any term or condition of an RCA [retransmission consent agreement] that would, by reason of any of the Transactions, result in an RCA between Cox Media Group and any MVPD applying to any current Tegna station that will be controlled by Standard General after the Closing…

“(2) acknowledges and agrees that the intent and effect of such waiver is to permit any RCA with Tegna in effect as of the time immediately prior to the Closing to continue to apply to the Tegna Stations as of and following the Closing.”

George Winslow

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.