Media mogul Byron Allen seems to be courting main Democratic politicians as soon as once more as he makes an attempt to cease a hedge fund’s acquisition of TV station big Tegna, in keeping with a distinguished Beltway analysis agency.
The Division of Justice is inside days of doubtless clearing hedge fund Commonplace Common’s $8.6 billion buyout of Tegna — a publicly traded chain of 64 native TV stations that was spun off in 2015 from newspaper big Gannett.
In the meantime Allen — who reportedly has been angling to nab Tegna’s nationwide broadcasting empire to widen the distribution of his personal nascent cable channels — on Friday hosted an occasion at his Los Angeles residence for Home Minority Chief Hakeem Jefferies (D-NY) and Minority Whip Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) with company that additionally included Nancy Pelosi, in keeping with Deadline Hollywood.
“We might not be shocked by a forthcoming letter from the … politicians [at the event] elevating considerations concerning non-public fairness agency Commonplace Common’s buy of Tegna to FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel,” Washington Evaluation, which advises institutional buyers on DC coverage, wrote in a be aware to purchasers final week that was reviewed by The Put up.
Home Minority Chief Hakeem Jefferies attended an occasion at Allen’s Los Angeles residence.AP
If the DOJ approves the deal, which appears more and more seemingly, it will then go to the FCC and Rosenworcel would determine whether or not to clear it, sources mentioned.
“Any letter from the brand new Democrat Home management could be designed to place additional stress on Rosenworcel to ‘pocket veto’ the transaction by failing to behave,” the letter mentioned.
A spokesperson for Allen responded in a written assertion to The Put up that “Mr. Allen didn’t converse to the Democratic Social gathering management about Tegna” on the occasion.
Jessica Rosenworcel is the FCC chairwoman.Bloomberg through Getty Pictures
“These assertions, implications, and predictions are blatantly false,” the spokesperson added. “Mr. Allen merely opened his residence to introduce the brand new Democratic Social gathering management to his fellow supporters of the Democratic Social gathering.”
In an uncommon transfer in October, Pelosi despatched a letter to FCC Chairwoman Rosenworcel expressing “severe considerations” concerning the deal to purchase Tegna. The letter raised eyebrows as Pelosi doesn’t weigh in on many mergers. Tegna doesn’t personal any stations in her California district, and nor was the merger seen as having a lot nationwide significance, sources mentioned.
Within the letter, Pelosi, together with Vitality and Commerce Committee Chair Frank Pallone Jr., mentioned she was frightened the deal would increase cable payments, crimp native information protection and spur job losses.
In a written response to the FCC, Commonplace Common denied plans to decrease native protection and reduce station jobs, calling them hypothesis and saying it “made a dedication within the FCC file that it was not planning any such actions.”
In October, Nancy Pelosi despatched a letter to FCC Chairwoman Rosenworcel expressing “severe considerations” concerning the Tegna deal. AP
Extra lately, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Jan. 11 wrote to FCC Rosenworcel saying the Commonplace Common merger will lead to anticompetitive practices.
Former comic Allen, whose Los Angeles-based Allen Media owns the Climate Channel, has change into the “Forrest Gump” of the proposed merger, seemingly making an look at each flip of occasions on this deal’s cycle, Washington Evaluation wrote.
“After his failure to acquire the mandatory funds early on to buy the property himself, he’s extensively believed to have taken each alternative accessible to take pictures at Commonplace Common’s superior provide,” Washington Evaluation mentioned.
Final yr, Allen bundled $271,300 in marketing campaign donations to Pelosi and gave a further $275,000 to the Democratic Congressional Marketing campaign Committee – which helps Democrat candidates for the Home, The Put up beforehand reported.
Extra lately, Sen. Elizabeth Warren additionally wrote to Rosenworcel, warning of ensuing anticompetitive practices.AP
Allen has informed The Put up his “donations to quite a few Democratic politicians and PACs which solely started final yr don’t have anything to do with Tegna and all the things to do with defending our democracy.”
Commonplace Common is shopping for Tegna and getting financing from Apollo World Administration. The DOJ’s important query is whether or not Apollo can have any hand in Tegna administration, sources mentioned. Apollo owns the Cox Media Group and its 33 tv stations and mixing it and Tegna could be in violation of broadcast possession guidelines, sources mentioned.
DOJ Antitrust Chief Jonathan Kanter has recused himself from this merger overview resulting from his being a companion at legislation agency Paul Weiss that represents Apollo from 2016 to 2020, sources mentioned.
Cox is contributing its Boston station, Fox affiliate WFXT, to the holding firm that’s shopping for Tegna. Tegna was planning to take the upper fee WFXT prices cable distributors in comparison with Tegna and making use of that increased “retransmission” fee to all its stations.
It’s common follow for station homeowners to take its station that prices essentially the most and utilizing that prime fee for all its stations. However Commonplace Common has now agreed to not apply WFXT’s fee as a situation of getting its deal accepted, sources mentioned.