The lack of diversity in the media has persisted for far too long. Women and people of color who choose to make media their careers have fewer opportunities than their male or White peers. However, a proposed transaction awaiting the Federal Communication Commission’s approval for more than a year could significantly advance diversity and minority capacity in the media industry.
Standard General, an American hedge fund, acquiring TEGNA, an American broadcast media company, would be a massive win for people of color and women in the news industry and communities nationwide.
This transaction would create the largest minority-owned and woman-run TV broadcast company in the United States, led by industry veterans Soo Kim and Deb McDermott. Unfortunately, the FCC Media Bureau recently rejected the chance to make real progress and chose to designate this transaction for a hearing before an administrative law judge, a delay tactic designed to kill the deal.
Diversity in media ownership continues to lag at embarrassingly low levels. According to the FCC’s report, African-Americans accounted for 3 percent of the majority ownership interests in commercial full-power TV stations, while Asian- Americans represented only 1 percent. If the commission rejects this deal, how will any minority investor be able to finance any transaction in the future, knowing the FCC is not supportive of would-be minority owners?
This transaction would help remedy persistently low minority ownership in media and create more balanced news reporting for communities who need it. As the country’s most significant woman-led and minority-owned media company, this transaction would instantly further the FCC’s expressed goals of increasing diversity in broadcast station ownership and management.
One of Standard General’s key public interest initiatives for the transaction will be to empower the voices of local communities. They want to partner with community journalism groups to amplify their work and the communities they represent.
We need more diversity throughout the broadcast industry, and this company will be able to make an impact. Standard General’s experience in growing diverse media brands makes it clear that TEGNA would be far more diverse after the acquisition. Advancing minority media ownership is a stated goal of the FCC, making it bewildering that the commission has refused to approve this transaction.
The transaction should have taken a few months for regulatory review, but there has been a tremendous lack of transparency by the FCC as the review process has dragged on for far too long.
Enhancing minority voices is essential, and the FCC must reverse course and approve this transaction. Standard General/TEGNA will provide a tremendous victory for local news and communities of color.