Standard General Makes Renewed Diversity Commitments; Enlists More Support for Tegna Deal

(Image credit: Tegna)

WASHINGTON, D.C.—With time running out on the financial commitments needed to fund Standard General’s proposed $8.6B acquisition of Tegna, Standard General has announced that it has made additional commitments to advance diversity and is reporting new support from civil rights groups and political leaders for the Tegna deal. 

Standard General and a coalition of leading civil rights organizations announced the signing of a new memorandum of understanding (MOU) to further strengthen Standard General’s commitments to diversity and inclusion for its pending acquisition of Tegna. 

This joint agreement comes on the heels of these groups and other prominent voices demanding the Federal Communications Commission hold a vote on the proposed acquisition, which would increase minority ownership of broadcast stations in the U.S. by 300%, Standard General said. 

The MOU outlines a five-part diversity, equity, and inclusion action plan that would immediately go into effect following the closing of the Standard General - Tegna transaction and guide all parties’ collaborative efforts to increase diverse representation across U.S. local news programming. 

Standard General, which previously guaranteed a 50% increase in Tegna’s board member diversity if the deal is successful, has introduced additional commitments with the MOU. Those include:

  • Expanding workforce recruitment, mentoring, and training programs;
  • Increasing diverse supplier spending;
  • Prioritizing minority audience participation throughout all local programming;
  • Developing a “Community Investment Plan” to support minority-led and minority-serving organizations and institutions;
  • Creating an advisory board of community leaders, civil rights groups, and public interest representatives to achieve measurable results.

In addition to this agreement, New York Mayor Eric Adams also recently sent a letter to FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel saying, “It is my understanding that with this acquisition Tegna would become the largest minority­-owned, woman-led broadcasting company in U.S. history while also tripling the number of minority-owned television stations. It would also be the first enterprise of its kind to be led by a woman. I am a proud backer of minority and women-owned businesses, and I believe that, in general, it is in New York City's interest to support and promote them.”

“As this deal impacts Tegna workers across the country, including in New York City, I take this opportunity to reach out to you directly,” Adams wrote. “I am not commenting on the merits of the acquisition, but rather am urging you to ensure that Standard General receives fair and expeditious consideration of its proposed acquisition.”

One day after Mayor Adams’ letter, a separate letter was sent from the FDNY Foundation to FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel formally announcing their support for the deal and demanding the FCC hold a vote. 

“On behalf of the FDNY Foundation, we offer our support for Soo Kim and Standard General’s acquisition of Tegna and further ask the FCC to conduct a vote on what will be a historic deal,” the FDNY letter said. 

“The FCC is trying to use a legal ruse and regulatory bias to run out the clock,” the letter also said. “This move is without precedent, and they do so without ever asking Standard General about the investors and shareholders impacted by their flawed process. All of the appropriate Biden-Harris Administration agencies have reviewed the requested documents and have seen fit to allow this deal to go forward. The Media Bureau’s regulatory bias puts the financial futures of first responders on the line. Our hardworking firefighters and police officers are included in the potential $2 billion loss upon deal break, that all investors in this deal will suffer. Will the federal government be asked once again to come to the aid of first responders after bureaucrats at one of its agencies risk the retirements of good men and women in a reckless game? We are asking that the FCC think about the number of reasons the labor and civil rights communities have aligned [providing] testimony on why this deal is crucial….We ask that you consider working Americans who put their communities before themselves, along with the families of New York police officers and firefighters, this deal will impact that, and the union support from UNITE HERE, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, and the International Union of Operating Engineers Standard General has received.”

“Since the deal was first announced more than a year ago, Standard General has made it clear that this acquisition is meant to create one of the nation’s most inclusive and equitable broadcast companies in history and all we are asking for is fairness from the FCC,” said Soo Kim, Standard General’s managing partner and chief investment officer. “It is an honor to partner with these incredible civil rights organizations to help guide the implementation of our diversity, equity, and inclusion action plan to ensure that diverse voices and perspectives are heard and valued across the company. We are also honored to see Mayor Eric Adams and the FDNY Foundation calling for fairness from the FCC. The uptick in public support reaffirms Standard General’s commitment to increasing diversity and strengthening local journalism. Our applications conform to all existing rules and precedent. Rather than running out the clock, we ask the Commissioners to grant us an up-or-down vote. We will accept their decision.”

TV Tech's complete coverage of the deal is available here

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.