On Wednesday, Common Cause, joined by UCC Media Justice, filed a petition with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) asking the agency to deny the proposed $8.6 billion merger of Apollo Global Management, Standard General L.P., and Tegna Inc. If approved, Standard General would acquire Tegna’s 61 full power television stations and two radio stations across 50 markets. Apollo will control the licenses of 31 full-power television stations in 26 markets and 54 radio stations in 11 radio markets.
The petition urges the Commission to deny the proposed transaction on the grounds that it would enlarge two firms – Standard General and Apollo – who have already swallowed smaller broadcast groups – leading to greater consolidation in the marketplace, leading to reporter layoffs, price hikes, and national harms related to greater media consolidation.
Statement of Yosef Getachew, Common Cause Media & Democracy Program Director
“This merger represents yet another opportunity by private equity and hedge funds to take over America’s newsrooms. Local news is critical to a functioning democracy particularly for communities of color and other marginalized groups who are more likely to rely on over-the-air programming for news and information than other communications channels. But as we’ve seen, private equity’s ownership of local media has led to reporter layoffs and consolidated newsrooms, unable to provide communities with the news and information they need to civically engage and hold government accountable.
“Standard General and Apollo have failed to provide any evidence that this merger won’t lead to dire consequences for our local media ecosystem. Rather, these companies have made their business intentions clear to downsize Tegna’s stations post transaction and potentially displace local programming with national programming.” The companies have also structured the deal to take advantage of contractual arrangements that would ultimately lead to price hikes for pay television subscribers at a time when households are facing the consequences of inflation in their pocketbooks. The size and scope of the transaction would also lead to national harms. Without robust local news across multiple markets, providing coverage of issues impacting our democracy, harmful proposals are more likely to spread throughout the nation.
“With the broadcast market already highly consolidated with a handful of conglomerates owning much of our local media, the FCC should block this merger and send a message to the predatory hedge funds looking to make a quick buck by tearing down one of the key pillars to our democracy.”
To read the full petition, click here.