Byron Allen reportedly courting Democrats to derail TV-station Tegna buyout

Media mogul Byron Allen appears to be siding with major Democratic politicians once again as he tries to block a hedge fund acquisition of TV station giant Tegna, according to a leading Beltway research firm.

The Justice Department is likely within days of clearing hedge fund Standard General’s $8.6 billion purchase of Tegna — a publicly traded chain of 64 local TV stations from newspaper giant Gannett in 2015. was closed.

Meanwhile, Allen — who is reportedly seeking to capture Tegna’s nationwide broadcast empire to expand the distribution of his fledgling cable channels — met with House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) at his Los Angeles home on Friday. ) and hosted an event for Minority Whip Catherine. Clark (D-Mass.) with guests including Nancy Pelosi; According to Deadline Hollywood.

“We will not be surprised by a letter from politicians. [at the event] “Washington Analysis, which advises institutional investors on DC policy, told clients last week that the private equity firm Standard General had concerns about the Tegna purchase to FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworsel. wrote in a note reviewed by The Post.

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries attended an event at Allen’s Los Angeles home.

If the DOJ approves the deal, which is increasingly likely, it will go to the FCC and Rosenworcel will decide whether to clear it, sources said.

“Any letter from the new Democrat House leadership would be designed to put more pressure on Rosenworcel to ‘pocket veto’ the transaction by failing to act,” the letter said.

A spokesman for Allen responded in a written statement to The Post that “Mr. Allen has not discussed Tegna with the leadership of the Democratic Party at the party.”

Jessica Rosenworsel, Chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission
Jessica Rosenworsel is the chairwoman of the FCC.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

“These claims, implications and predictions are patently false,” the spokesperson added. “Mr. Allen opened his home to introduce the new leadership of the Democratic Party to his fellow Democratic supporters.

In an unusual move in October, Pelosi Sent a letter to the FCC chairwoman Rosenworsel expressed “serious concerns” about the deal to buy Tegna. The letter raised eyebrows because Pelosi doesn’t weigh in on many mergers. Tegna does not own any stations in its California district, sources said, and the merger was not seen as having much national significance.

In the letter, Pelosi, along with Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Frank Pallone Jr., said they were concerned the deal would raise cable bills, reduce local news coverage and cut jobs.

In a written response to the FCC, Standard General denied plans to reduce local coverage and cut station jobs, calling them speculation and saying it “has made a commitment on the FCC record that it will not do any such thing.” Not planning action.”

Nancy Pelosi
In October, Nancy Pelosi sent a letter to FCC Chairwoman Rosen Worsell expressing “serious concerns” about the Tegna deal.

more recently, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) wrote to FCC Rosenworcel on January 11 Stating that standard general mergers would result in competitive practices.

Former comedian Allen, who owns the Los Angeles-based Allen Media Weather Channel, has become the “Forrest Gump” of the proposed merger, appearing at every turn of events in the deal’s cycle, The Washington Post wrote. .

“After initially failing to raise the necessary funds to buy the assets itself, it is widely believed to have seized every available opportunity to take shots at Standard General’s superior offer,” the Washington analysis said. .

Last year, Allen bundled $271,300 in campaign donations to Pelosi and gave an additional $275,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee — which supports Democratic candidates for the House, the Post previously reported.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren
More recently, Sen. Elizabeth Warren also wrote a letter to RosenWorsel, warning of the resulting competitive process.

“Tegna and everything else has nothing to do with protecting our democracy,” Allen told The Post of his donations to several Democratic politicians and PACs.

Standard General is buying Tegna and securing financing from Apollo Global Management. Sources said that the main question of the DOJ is whether Apollo will have any hand in the management of Tegna. Apollo owns Cox Media Group and its 33 television stations, and a merger with Tegna would violate broadcast ownership rules.

DOJ antitrust chief Jonathan Kantor has recused himself from the merger review because he was a partner at the law firm Paul Weiss, which represented Apollo from 2016 to 2020.

Cox is giving its Boston station, Fox affiliate WFXT, to the holding company that is buying Tegna. Tegna was planning to charge WFXT higher rates to cable distributors than Tegna and apply that higher “retransmission” rate to all of its stations.

It is common practice for station owners to take the station that charges the highest and use that top rate for all their stations. But Standard General has now agreed not to implement the WFXT rate as a condition of approving its deal, the sources said.

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