June 7, 2023

Wall Avenue has grown accustomed to getting its manner in Washington. So when a pair of Wall Avenue funds, Commonplace Basic and Apollo World Administration, proposed taking on TEGNA, the nation’s second-largest native broadcast station proprietor, they thought it will be easy crusing. 

Nonetheless, the Federal Communications Fee, beneath the management of Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, takes its duty to guard the general public curiosity very critically. And after reviewing the transaction, the FCC’s Media Bureau determined this deal deserved a better look.

Commonplace Basic’s management reacted with outrage. They put collectively an opinion piece asserting that the FCC’s cautious scrutiny of the takeover’s affect on native journalism and jobs is an “unprecedented overreach of authority.” The hedge fund then pushed duplicates of the piece to 6 “native” retailers–the New York Day by day Information, Boston Herald, Chicago Tribune, St. Paul Pioneer Press, Hartford Courant, and The Virginian-Pilot–all owned by fellow Wall Avenue hedge fund Alden World Capital, which has gutted a number of native newspapers. That is no coincidence. That is one hedge fund govt working with one other to assault the FCC.

The op-ed, primarily based on an egregious misreading of the FCC’s ruling, is an assault on our nation’s democratic establishments and, satirically, displays simply what the FCC was attempting to forestall: hedge funds and rich Wall Avenue executives dominating our nation’s native information.

In the meantime, this $8.6 billion deal is being funded partially by the nation’s largest non-public fairness agency, Apollo World Administration, which already controls one other huge native TV chain, Cox Media Group. Behind the scenes, Commonplace Basic goes even additional, taking its case to federal court docket to reverse the FCC determination and even query the constitutionality of the FCC’s merger overview course of. The court docket rejected Commonplace Basic’s attraction–and likewise rejected the hedge fund’s demand that the court docket instruct the FCC to approve the deal.

The FCC has an obligation to contemplate proposed media acquisitions within the context of the truth of native information in America, the place newspapers are being purchased and stripped by hedge funds like Commonplace Basic, leaving native communities with information deserts and at higher threat of falling sufferer to the misinformation campaigns that threaten our democracy.

That’s why the FCC is taking an intensive take a look at this buyout and searching for to carry a listening to to grasp the potential affect of this acquisition on native information, together with cuts to native jobs and information programming. Its refusal to rubber-stamp Commonplace Basic’s proposed TEGNA takeover was the results of repeated failures by the Wall Avenue funds to show that their deal served the general public curiosity. Commonplace Basic’s try and undermine the authority of the FCC in response is harmful, but it surely’s actually nothing new.

That is precisely what non-public fairness and hedge funds do: problem the unbiased establishments that increase questions concerning the penalties of their relentless drive to extract income. Wall Avenue and telecom corporations have been emboldened by the success of their shameful marketing campaign to misrepresent Gigi Sohn’s report and derail her nomination to the FCC. That is all half of a bigger try by Wall Avenue to weaken and discredit the businesses that do their job by defending employees, customers, and our communities.

These assaults are harmful. We shouldn’t be undermining the constitutionality of our nation’s democratic establishments, and our elected leaders shouldn’t be taken in by misinformation campaigns and giving in to company bullying.

Commonplace Basic’s op-ed touts “the ability of native information.” Native information is highly effective. It’s essentially the most trusted information supply in America, and we have to maintain it that manner. The FCC has taken an essential step in the direction of doing simply that by intently reviewing Commonplace Basic’s TEGNA takeover.

Chris Shelton is the president of Communications Staff of America.

The opinions expressed in Fortune.com commentary items are solely the views of their authors and don’t essentially mirror the opinions and beliefs of Fortune.

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