Aug 22, 2019

Private equity giant Apollo wants to consolidate local TV

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Apollo Global Management, one of the world's largest buyout firms, believes there's more than just a puff left on the local TV cigar, despite widespread conventional wisdom that the value has been snuffed out.

Why it matters: Apollo could soon become one of America's most influential news broadcasters, even though few Americans know its name.

In the news:

  • Apollo has held talks to buy select broadcast assets from Tegna, after being rebuffed in a February takeover attempt.
  • Earlier this year it agreed to buy a portfolio of local stations from Cox Media Group, and another portfolio from Northwest Broadcasting Group.
  • It also bid, but lost, on a divestiture by Nexstar. But some of that ultimately went to Tegna, so could still wind up in Apollo's hands.

A source familiar with the situation says Apollo views this all as a "coupon-clipping" consolidation play.

  • It believes the price discounts have been artificially deepened by attention given to cord-cutting. Internally, it references the continued strength of RedBox, which has managed to survive the streaming service onslaught.
  • It also sees no reason for a near-term reversal in retransmission fee growth, which it believes can offset subscriber loss for at least the next several years.

Apollo views local TV as a distinct business from local radio and, certainly, from local newspapers. But it clearly has a thematic affinity for all three.

  • The Cox deal included some radio stations, and Apollo's credit arm just provided a massive loan for the GateHouse-Gannett merger (after first kicking the tires on Gannett itself). Plus, several years back, Apollo tried to buy Digital First Media.

Go deeper

Trump says he will campaign against Lisa Murkowski after her support for Mattis

Trump with Barr and Meadows outside St. John's Episcopal church in Washington, D.C. on June 1. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump tweeted on Thursday that he would endorse "any candidate" with a pulse who runs against Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).

Driving the news: Murkowski said on Thursday that she supported former defense secretary James Mattis' condemnation of Trump over his response to protests in the wake of George Floyd's killing. She described Mattis' statement as "true, honest, necessary and overdue," Politico's Andrew Desiderio reports.

4 hours ago - World

The president vs. the Pentagon

Trump visits Mattis and the Pentagon in 2018. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty

Over the course of just a few hours, President Trump was rebuffed by the Secretary of Defense over his call for troops in the streets and accused by James Mattis, his former Pentagon chief, of trampling the Constitution for political gain.

Why it matters: Current and former leaders of the U.S. military are drawing a line over Trump's demand for a militarized response to the protests and unrest that have swept the country over the killing of George Floyd by police.

New York Times says Tom Cotton op-ed did not meet standards

Photo: Avalon/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

A New York Times spokesperson said in a statement Thursday that the paper will be changing its editorial board processes after a Wednesday op-ed by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), which called for President Trump to "send in the troops" in order to quell violent protests, failed to meet its standards.

Why it matters: The shift comes after Times employees began a coordinated movement on social media on Wednesday and Thursday that argued that publishing the op-ed put black staff in danger. Cotton wrote that Trump should invoke the Insurrection Act in order to deploy the U.S. military against rioters that have overwhelmed police forces in cities across the country.