Standard General Makes New Tegna Commitments in Runup to Crucial FCC Meeting

(Image credit: Tegna)

WASHINGTON, D.C.—With the financial commitments needed to finance the $8.6 billion Tegna acquisition set to expire on Monday May 22, Standard General is reporting that it will be meeting with the FCC on May 18 to discuss and negotiate issues that have been blocking approval of the Tegna deal. 

In the run-up to the meeting, Standard General has also made new commitments and released new information to help overcome the FCC’s concerns about the deal. Standard General said in a press release it is making the new commitments “in response to the Enforcement Bureau's suggestion that we quickly attempt to resolve remaining concerns to allow the transaction to move forward.”

The new commitments and disclosures of information relate to potential concerns around the two issues raised in the FCC's Hearing Designation Order: the potential for increased retransmission consent fees from after-acquired clauses and the impact on localism. 

Standard General has also made additional commitments and submissions that further highlight the public interest benefits of this transaction. 

“We are continuing to work hard to ensure the FCC has all of the information they need to allow a vote on our deal with TEGNA,” said founding partner of Standard General Soo Kim. “We remain available to answer any and all questions the FCC may have, but, in response to comments made during our meetings on Friday, we have provided additional information to the Commission with the hope that they will move quickly to a vote. We’ve received unprecedented support from labor unions, civil rights organizations and leaders on both sides of the aisle – and this deal must receive an FCC vote before Monday when its financing will expire. All we are asking for is to be treated fairly by receiving an up or down vote before it is too late.”

This week Standard General also received additional support from members of Congress who asked the FCC Inspector General to investigate how the agency has handled the deal, which was proposed more than a year ago. 

Standard General reported that the following information has been provided to the FCC:

  • Additional Disclosure from the DOJ Depositions of Standard General. Standard General stressed that this deal has been scrutinized carefully by multiple agencies including the Department of Justice. Instead of debating over Protective Orders, Standard General is voluntarily making public the DOJ sworn Depositions that relate to the questions of after-acquired retransmission rate impacts and the impact on localism / jobs that have been raised by the objectors and referred by the Media Bureau to the ALJ for the Standard General / TEGNA transaction. "The DOJ has conducted their due diligence and conducted hours of meetings with us on the very questions of retrans and localism," Standard General said. "Standard General has nothing to hide and – if Soo Kim or any of Standard General’s principals were anything less than forthright, this deal would not have passed the HSR period without challenge. We encourage the Enforcement Bureau to call the DOJ front office to confirm that a thorough examination of these very issues was already conducted by the DOJ."
  • Retrans Waiver / Comcast Agreement. Standard General said it has agreed to waive its contractual rights to apply after-acquired retransmission rates to the TEGNA stations and agreed to the conditions earlier requested by the NCTA, the industry group that represents cable TV providers. The waiver has been accepted by multiple MVPD’s, including Comcast, TEGNA’s largest customer. Standard General has submitted these documents to the FCC.
  • Job and Newsroom Commitments. Standard General has extended its commitment to maintain newsroom jobs for at least three years (extended from two years previously) – this commitment covers all NewsGuild-NABET employees at TEGNA. Standard General has also committed to increasing local news budgets and news programming by 20% across TEGNA-owned stations within 3 years of closing. Standard General has submitted various documents that detail these commitments to the FCC.
  • Union MOU. Standard General has signed an MOU with IATSE, which includes job commitments, the implementation of a local journalism grant fund, and neutrality agreements. This same MOU has been extended to all of TEGNA’s unions, including Newsguild-NABET. Standard General has submitted this MOU to the FCC.
  • Civil Rights MOU. Standard General signed a new MOU with leading civil rights groups including Asian Americans Advancing Justice, National Action Network, National Urban League, and UnidosUS. Standard General’s commitments entail “Community Investment Plans”, installation of new advisory boards, and collaborative efforts to increase diverse representation at TEGNA and its stations. Standard General has submitted the details of this agreement to the FCC.
  • Commitment to Repurchase Series B Preferred held by Apollo or CMG. Standard General has offered a new commitment to the FCC to repurchase all Series B securities held by Apollo or CMG within a specified period. Standard General has submitted the details of this commitment to the FCC.
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.