The Relevance of Race in the Standard General Acquisition of TEGNA Broadcast Stations

April 14, 2023

Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC, CWA, Common Cause, and United Church of Christ Media Justice Ministry Issue Statement on TEGNA/Standard General Merger

In the context of a proposed acquisition of TEGNA broadcast stations by Standard General, recent statements have focused on the ethnicity of Mr. Soo Kim, the co-founder and managing partner of Standard General. Such media attention has become divisive and has distracted from substantive issues related to the transaction. 

At the invitation of Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC, the parties opposing the transaction – CWA, Common Cause, and United Church of Christ Media Justice Ministry – and Mr. Kim met to discuss the relevance of race.  After the meeting, the parties agreed as follows:

Diversity and leadership at the ownership and executive level is important, and Mr. Kim’s leadership of Standard General will increase minority ownership and the FCC should recognize this. At the same time, “diversity” includes important additional factors such as local ownership, diversity of viewpoints, and multiplicity of owners.  Arguments focused on these factors and their potential impacts on the larger market and community are not racist and can be consistent with celebrating an owner’s racial/ethnic diversity.

Although the transparency of funding is a legitimate area of inquiry, broad statements concerning “foreign investors” can be seen as xenophobic, especially involving a person of Asian descent in the current geopolitical environment.  Recognizing that difference audiences may not have the proper context or nuance, such arguments must be carefully crafted.

The parties agree that the transaction should be evaluated on the merits – which includes the impact on journalism jobs, local news, and consumer cable prices.  This meeting did not focus on and certainly did not resolve those disagreements.  The meeting today and the agreements reached above will allow the parties to focus on what they agree are the merits of the case. Parties agree that the racial/ethnic identity of the owner should not be a primary determinant, and urge all stakeholders to refrain from engaging in racialized rhetoric that distracts from the substantive matters at hand.