On Thursday The NewsGuild-CWA responded to hedge fund Standard General’s attacks on the largest union of media workers in North America.
The filing was made at the invitation of the FCC, supplementing the unions’ June petition opposing approval for the hedge fund to take over TEGNA’s local TV news stations. The $5.4 billion deal was announced in February and The NewsGuild-CWA started asking questions in April. Standard General is seeking FCC approval to take over TEGNA, a local news broadcaster with 64 stations in 51 U.S. markets.
“Standard General has waded into the mud because it has no more justifications for its takeover of TEGNA,” said NewsGuild-CWA President Jon Schleuss. “Their latest personal attacks on American journalists is just another reason the FCC should deny this takeover.”
Standard General has repeatedly insisted to the FCC, the American people and TEGNA’s employees that it does not intend to reduce station-level staffing. However, in files provided to the FCC and Guild counsel, there are numerous documents indicating that Standard General plans to cut jobs to help finance the multi-billion dollar deal.
“As the FCC reviews our filings and these documents it will be clear: this deal is already dead,” Schleuss said.
The NewsGuild-CWA laid out numerous new findings in its FCC filing that speak directly to jobs and whether Standard General has been forthcoming to the Commission. It said in its filing:
Rather than alleviate concerns that TNG-CWA/NABET-CWA have about planned station-level job cuts, newly filed confidential documents reviewed by outside counsel show that the unions’ concerns are very well founded. These findings leave Standard General’s repeated assertion that it “does not intend” to cut station-level jobs, and its subsequent explanations for those repeated assertions, sinking in quicksand. The more Standard General tries to explain away its statements to the Commission and the public about job cuts, the more its assertions collapse under the weight of the record.
The deal includes the sale of Apollo’s Boston TV station to Standard General in a way that would permit it to exploit a contractual loophole. This would jack up revenues from retransmission consent fees for every TEGNA station across the country, the costs of which would be passed on to hardworking consumers. This financial manipulation is nothing more than sophisticated and collusive price-fixing, and absolutely should not be permitted.
The NewsGuild-CWA has fought hedge funds for years as they attempt to take over newsrooms all across America. Guild members have fought Alden Global Capital, Chatham Asset Management and have taken a stand against chains like Gannett and Lee Enterprises. The Guild’s fight is one that thousands of media workers have joined in the last five years.
Standard General’s CEO Soo Kim has complained that he hasn’t been able to connect with Schleuss to discuss possible conditions to secure support for the deal.
“There are no conditions under which we will support this deal,” Schleuss said. “But if Kim still wants to talk, he can meet me on the picket line in Pittsburgh.”
The NewsGuild-CWA is on strike with workers at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, where journalists are fighting a company that has violated federal labor law and has mistreated its workers. Read more about the strike at unionprogress.com.
About The NewsGuild-CWA
The NewsGuild is the largest union of journalists and media workers in North America, representing about 27,000 workers in media, the public sector at nonprofits and other labor unions. The Guild is one of the fastest growing unions on the continent and is a sector of the Communications Workers of America (CWA), which represents workers in telecommunications and information technology, the airline industry, health care, public service and education, manufacturing and other fields.