Common Cause Files Petition to Deny Proposed Apollo-Cox-Northwest Broadcasting Merger

On Friday, Common Cause and Common Cause Ohio, joined by United Church of Christ, OC Inc. filed a petition with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) asking the agency to deny the proposed merger of Apollo Global Management, Cox Enterprises, Inc. and Northwest Broadcasting Inc. If approved, Apollo would own 25 television stations putting a significant amount of media ownership in the control of a private equity firm.

Statement of Michael Copps, Former FCC Commissioner and Common Cause Special Adviser

“Apollo’s acquisition of Cox and Northwest Broadcasting poses significant public interest harms to broadcast localism and viewpoint diversity. Since 2004, about a third of the largest newspaper chains have been owned by private equity firms. History has shown that the quality of our news and information has significantly diminished under private equity control. These firms typically implement cost cutting strategies that bleed newspapers dry, leading to reporter layoffs and consolidated newsrooms. The profits generated from cutting costs are not invested into improving the news but rather to pay off loans and manage debt. Apollo’s entry into the broadcast market invites serious skepticism that it would benefit localism and viewpoint diversity instead of following the traditional model of laying off reporters and consolidating newsrooms.

“The harms of this transaction would be magnified in Dayton, OH where Cox owns the Dayton Daily News, the largest television station, and four radio stations. The high level of consolidation in Dayton has already led to reporter layoffs and less robust coverage of local news. People in the Dayton community say they know more about what is going on in other parts of Ohio than they do in their own town. Apollo’s merger won’t do anything to improve the state of local news in Dayton but will likely make it much worse.

“Allowing a private equity firm to control a significant amount of television stations at a time when the broadcast marketplace is already highly consolidated undermines our values of localism, viewpoint diversity, and more media ownership by women and people of color. The FCC should block this merger and uphold a framework that gives communities robust sources of local news and information.”

To read the petition, click here.