This afternoon, the Federal Communications Commission announced its Media Bureau has submitted Standard General’s attempted takeover of local news broadcaster TEGNA to an administrative law judge to review.
The hearing designation order is a strong indication that the staff agrees that there are clear issues with the takeover attempt. The move to refer the matter to an administrative law judge is rarely used by the FCC. Hedge fund Standard General first announced their plans to acquire TEGNA in February 2022. It’s an $8.6 billion deal and affects more than 60 local news stations across the U.S.
Today’s action shows that Standard General has failed to show that their takeover is in the public interest. In its order, the Media Bureau wrote, “based on the record before us, we are unable to find that grant of the applications would be consistent with the public interest.”
“Chairwoman Rosenworcel clearly recognizes that protecting the public interest means assessing the impact of media industry transactions on workers and on the health of local news,” CWA President Chris Shelton said. “In line with the Biden Administration’s focus on creating and preserving good, family-supporting jobs, Chairwoman Rosenworcel understands that it is not only appropriate, but essential, for the FCC to consider potential job loss as a result of mergers. CWA members appreciate her careful scrutiny of this deal and we thank the FCC staff for stepping in and standing with us at this critical point in our democracy’s history.”
“I applaud Chairwoman Rosenworcel for sticking up for local news and workers, and thank her for recognizing our concerns, particularly on the losses of local news jobs,” NewsGuild-CWA President Jon Schleuss said. “We have witnessed hedge funds murdering local newspapers, cutting jobs and decimating local news. We engaged in this fight to prevent the same thing from happening in local broadcast.”
“NABET-CWA has long fought for broadcast journalists and editorial workers, and we thank Chairwoman Rosenworcel’s resolve for backing our members,” said NABET-CWA President Charlie Braico.
In June 2022 The NewsGuild-CWA and NABET-CWA filed a petition to deny with the FCC, challenging Standard General’s plans to reduce local news jobs, raise consumer prices and violate the FCC’s ownership cap.
The NewsGuild-CWA has long advocated for local news and expressed concerns about hedge funds, including at Alden Global Capital, which has cut thousands of jobs and shuttered newspapers across the U.S.