FCC probes Standard General’s proposed acquisition of TEGNA

The head of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Media Bureau is asking attorneys at Standard General to explain how it would negotiate with cable and satellite providers if it acquires local broadcast company TEGNA.

In a letter sent to Standard General’s lawyers last week, the FCC demanded an explanation as to how the firm’s acquisition of more than 60 broadcast licenses and associated properties would serve the public interest.

The agency also wants information on how Standard General would negotiate with pay TV platforms like cable, satellite and streaming services when it comes to carriage deals for TEGNA’s stations. As The Desk reported last month, TEGNA’s carriage fees from cable and satellite operators surpassed its advertising revenue for the first time in 2021.

TEGNA has been involved in several disputes with pay television providers over the cost of its re-transmission fees on cable and satellite. A blackout with DirecTV left satellite viewers without access to NFL games aired on TEGNA-owned CBS, NBC and Fox affiliates last year. At the time, DirecTV’s then-parent company AT&T accused TEGNA of demanding its largest-ever price increase for access to the stations. Earlier this year, TEGNA and Dish Network ended a months-long stalemate on a similar issue.

In February, Standard General agreed to buy TEGNA for $5.4 billion in cash. The deal was backed by Apollo Global Management, a New York-based investment firm.