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Standard General's Tegna deal could have resolution soon

Tim Baysinger
Jan 17, 2023
Illustration of a television with $100 bill on the TV screen

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

It's been nearly a year since Standard General first reached a deal to buy local TV broadcaster Tegna, and still it hasn't closed. But a resolution to the $5.4 billion deal could finally be on the horizon.

Why it matters: It's one of the largest deals in the local broadcasting space, and its outcome could set the tone for the future of an industry that's been upended by the digital transformation.

Driving the news: The FCC, which has already blown past its typical 180-day period for dissenters to make public comments, has set a Jan. 20 deadline. That means a decision for the still-deadlocked 2-2 commission will likely come sometime next month.

State of play: The deal has gotten stiff pushback from unions, rival cable operators and lawmakers over fears that consolidation will further hamper competition.

  • Last week, Sen. Elizabeth Warren pushed FCC chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel to block the deal on the grounds that it would lead to higher prices for consumers, employee layoffs and collusion.
  • "The parties themselves have acknowledged that this deal is likely to produce anticompetitive effects," Warren wrote in a letter to Rosenworcel.
  • One day after Warren's letter, Standard General's managing partner, Soo Kim, asked for a meeting with her, arguing that job cuts would happen if the deal didn't go through and that it's needed to combat tech giants like Google and Facebook.

Of note: Kim has often argued that the deal would create the largest minority-owned and women-led broadcaster in the country.

Be smart: Another huge pain point is the role that Apollo Global Management — which runs rival station group Cox Media — would play. Apollo is helping Standard General fund its Tegna takeover. Cox would own some of the Tegna stations if the deal is approved.

Disclosure: Axios is owned by Cox Enterprises, which holds a minority stake in Cox Media Group.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to reflect that Axios is owned by Cox Enterprises, not Cox Communications.

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