Update: On May 20, the FCC granted the Guild’s request to delay the deadline for opposing a mega merger of news companies. This rarely happens, yet the FCC gave us another month to oppose the proposed takeover of TEGNA by two hedge funds. A merger would raise consumer prices and cut local news jobs. We cannot continue to lose local news jobs, which are already down 28% from 2008.
The NewsGuild asked the FCC on May 12 to delay action on the proposed acquisition of TEGNA by two hedge funds.
Guild President Jon Schleuss also called on TEGNA’s Board of Directors to postpone consideration of the deal, which is currently set for May 17.
The Guild joined with Common Cause and Public Knowledge in a motion filed Thursday asking the agency to require Apollo Global Management and Standard General to provide additional information about the planned takeover.
The groups said additional information is necessary “for the Commission and the public to meaningfully assess whether the proposed transactions are in the public interest,” citing the complex nature of the proposed transaction, the potential for price increases for consumers, and the likelihood of additional newsroom layoffs.
The motion also asks for an extension of the deadline for opponents of the acquisition to respond.
“Mergers and acquisitions of news outlets and other media organizations have wreaked havoc on local news,” Schleuss said. “Private equity funds – including Apollo – have been systematically buying up news companies and laying off journalists en masse.
“It’s time to stop the takeover of America’s newsrooms by private equity. Rather than investing in local journalism, these funds engage in extreme cost-cutting and use the revenue to pay off loans and manage debt. These predatory practices leave communities with diminished sources of local news.
“This has a destructive effect on civic life and on local news consumers’ ability to participate in our democracy,” Schleuss said. “We call on the Federal Communications Commission to act in the public’s best interest and we urge TEGNA’s board to delay the May 17 shareholders’ vote until such information is provided to regulators. The Board should not allow for a vote until the threat to jobs and consumer prices are better understood.”