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Axios Live with Standard General's Soo Kim

Axios' Tim Baysinger and Standard General's Soo Kim. Screenshot

Despite the swift economic decline since its deal to acquire Tegna earlier this year, Standard General isn't having any buyer's remorse, Soo Kim, the firm's managing partner and CIO, tells Axios.

Why it matters: Kim is taking the long view on this deal, even as market conditions look quite a bit worse than they did five months ago.

  • "We did the deal in February, knowing that this might take as long as 12 months to close," Kim said during Axios Pro's live event on Thursday. "Obviously, the world has shifted now. ... But the reasoning and logic behind this deal was much more than what happens to the economy in a very short term. I think the long-term prospects for this business are great, and we continue to be excited about it."

State of play: The $5.4 billion deal is getting stiff pushback, largely over the role that Apollo Global Management, which runs rival station group Cox Media, will play. Apollo is helping Standard General fund its Tegna takeover.

  • Since the deal was announced, the FCC has gotten petitions from cable groups, public-interest organizations, labor unions and, last week, a competing station group, Graham Media Holdings.
  • The Tegna deal was expected to close in the second half of this year, and Kim sees no reason why that won't still be the case.
  • "The fact that we will be the largest minority-owned, women-led broadcaster ever will bring a new perspective to the media landscape," Kim says.

Yes, but: Private equity firms, which have gobbled up and consolidated the local media landscape in recent years, have been accused of looking only to squeeze every last ounce of profit as those businesses die out.

  • For his part, Kim says he's a believer in local video content and points to the fact that younger consumers are glued to their phones.
  • "I think that demand for local video news is higher than ever and we have a more informed citizenry," he says. "And frankly, Gen Z and Millennials are consuming more video content than anybody else."
  • As a private company, Kim argues Tegna will be free to innovate without being shackled to the demands of quarterly earnings and pleasing shareholders.

What's next: As evidenced by Nexstar's anticipated deal for The CW broadcast network, the consolidation wave isn't breaking anytime soon.

  • "If you think about platforms like Facebook or TikTok or Google — they're larger than any broadcaster," Kim says. "I just think that older media businesses, whether it's Nexstar buying CW or it's whatever buying whatever, that's the natural progression to try to get back some market heft."
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