Feb 27, 2023 - Economy

FCC move could kill $5.4 billion Tegna takeover

Illustration of a television with a test pattern dripping off the screen.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The Federal Communications Commission has asked its administrative court to review Standard General's proposed $5.4 billion takeover of local television broadcaster Tegna.

Why it matters: This is antitrust via passive aggression, as the parties are unlikely to receive resolution by their closing deadline of May 22.

Details: Standard General agreed last February to buy Virginia-based Tegna for $24 per share in cash, with financial backing from Apollo Global Management. Following the deal close, Apollo portfolio company Cox Media Group would acquire a handful of stations from Standard General, and also share ownership of OTT advertising platform Premion.

  • Note: Cox Enterprises, the parent company of Axios, maintains a minority equity stake in Cox Media Group.

Zoom out: All of this comes as the Biden administration continues its fraught efforts to install Gigi Sohn as an FCC commissioner.

The bottom line: The FCC likely is concerned that because Apollo, which owns 80% of the local radio and broadcast stations that were formerly fully owned by Cox Enterprises, is working with Standard General, the combined entity could unfairly control prices in overlapping markets.

[Editor's note: This story has been corrected to reflect that Gigi Sohn was nominated by President Biden to be an FCC commissioner, not FCC chair.]

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