After months of scrutiny and last-minute brinksmanship, a proposed $8.6 Billion hedge fund takeover of TV company TEGNA was finally sent to the scrap heap. UCC Media Justice had jointly filed against the transaction with Common Cause and also with two unions that are part of Communications Workers of America. UCC Media Justice told the Federal Communications Commission that the proposed transaction would lead to more centralized news, less responsive to local communities and higher cable TV prices.”
UCC Media Justice policy advisor, Cheryl A. Leanza, said:
“Sometimes, the process works and the needs of the public are put first. This is one of those times. This transaction deserved every ounce of scrutiny it received. The hedge funds seeking approval of this deal did not produce the information, data and changes needed to get through the regulatory approval process. Going back to the 1960s, the UCC’s media justice activism has always been in furtherance of corporate accountability to community needs. We thank FCC Chair Rosenworcel and the other FCC Commissioners and staff for their hard work on behalf of the public.”
Although the FCC issued an order in February seeking further evidence on the two issues raised by UCC Media Justice and its allies— which many expected would scuttle the deal—the merging parties began a series of high-profile and improbable legal maneuvers to pressure regulators into acceding despite the significant concerns UCC Media Justice and others raised. The efforts ended on May 22, when the deal’s financing expired. UCC Media Justice allies Common Cause and NewsGuild-CWA and NABET-CWA also celebrated the event.
“Today’s developments are a resounding win – we say YES to long term investment in local newsrooms that make America’s democracy stronger,” said Kathay Feng, Vice President for Programs at Common Cause.
“This is a major victory for our union members, who have been fighting the hedge fund takeover of local news for more than a decade,” said NewsGuild-CWA President Jon Schleuss. “For too long, hedge funds like Standard General, Alden Global Capital and Chatham Asset Management have taken over local newsrooms, taken on massive amounts of debt and cut jobs and local news coverage to service that debt. Today we secured a major victory in preventing yet another attempt by hedge funds to take over local news,” he said.
“Standard General and Apollo had multiple opportunities to provide more documents and failed to answer questions raised during this process, which extended the time for the deal to be reviewed,” said NABET-CWA President Charlie Braico. “In the end, their failure to provide adequate answers led to the need for further scrutiny in front of a judge and their poor planning in regard to their financing timeline led to the deal’s demise.
Additional background and reactions are available in the CWA press release.
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