Tegna Deal: Standard General Files Lawsuit Against FCC

(Image credit: Tegna)

WASHINGTON—Standard General has filed suit against the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, asking the court to review the FCC’s handling of its proposed $8.6 billion acquisition of Tegna and to order the FCC to approve the deal. 

Standard General announced plans to acquire Tegna more than a year ago and its financing for the deal would expire on May 22, 2023. Recently, the FCC’s Media Bureau issued an order asking for an administrative judge to review the deal. The further delay would likely derail the deal. 

“[T]he Media Bureau repeatedly delayed the license-transfer applications and, on February 24,  2023, ordered a hearing before the Commission’s administrative law  judge that cannot be completed before the financing underpinning the  transaction expires on May 22, 2023,” Standard General said in a court filing. “The hearing ordered by the Media Bureau pursuant  to delegated authority is unconstitutional and otherwise unlawful on  multiple grounds, and its purpose and effect is to deny the applications.”

“The broadcasters therefore respectfully request that this Court reverse the Hearing Order and remand to the agency with instructions to grant the applications,” the filing concluded. 

In announcing the lawsuit, Standard General noted that the deal would create the largest minority-owned and female-led broadcasting company in U.S. history and that the deal was supported by dozens of bipartisan legislators, policy experts and advocacy organizations including civil rights groups, labor unions, broadcasters, advocates for women in tech, media, and public interest groups seeking to advance diversity in broadcasting have expressed support for the transaction.

Standard General also complained that the approval process had lasted far beyond the informal 180 shot clock for reviewing deals and that the FCC opened three extended public comment periods over 10 months, during which Standard General produced 13 million pages of documents to the FCC and Department of Justice.  

In addition, the FCC repeatedly declined Standard General’s offers to meet—granting them only one 30-minute session with the Commissioners and an hour-long session with the Media Bureau—while meeting with special interests opposed to the deal over a dozen times, Standard General said. 

Standard General also stressed that it had made a number of promises regarding staffing and retransmission consent negotiations that were designed to address concerns raised by opponents of the deal. 

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.