Hedge fund Standard General sues FCC over delay in Tegna deal

Signage is seen at the headquarters of the Federal Communications Commission in Washington, D.C.
Signage is seen at the headquarters of the Federal Communications Commission in Washington, D.C., U.S., August 29, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

March 28 (Reuters) - Standard General said on Tuesday it had filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) over its decision to hold hearings on the hedge fund's $5.4 billion plan to buy television station operator Tegna (TGNA.N).

The third-largest shareholder of Tegna alleged the FCC Media Bureau's decision to hold was "an unprecedented and legally improper maneuver", as in its nearly year-long review it had not expressed any concerns with the transaction.

Media Bureau of the FCC, which regulates telecommunications in the country, last month said it would hold a hearing on the planned acquisition of Tegna, which manages 64 stations in 51 U.S. markets.

Tegna and the FCC did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Last year, Tegna agreed to be taken private by Standard General in a deal valued at $8.6 billion, including debt. At the time, the acquisition was expected to complete in the second half of 2022.

The deal has attracted criticism from some powerful corners in Congress, including then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, on concerns of potentially higher TV prices for consumers and job losses.

Standard General has said the proposed deal "will yield significant public interest benefits without any countervailing public interest harms" and suggested that those opposed were misleading lawmakers "with the same false statements they have been making to the FCC."

In February, it said the U.S. Justice Department had also allowed its review period of the deal to expire without raising any concerns.

Reporting by Eva Mathews in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli

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