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Nancy Pelosi attacks media merger after huge campaign donation

Nancy Pelosi is stirring up a stir over a deal to take a large group of TV stations private — she and fellow House Democrats want $500,000 from comedian-turned-media mogul Byron Allen to block the deal. After getting a campaign donation of more than a dollar.

Speaker of the House Sent letter to FCC chairman on October 6 Jessica Rosenworcel expresses “serious concerns” about Tegna’s deal. Spin-off from newspaper giant Gannett In 2015, it was sold to hedge fund Standard General for $8.6 billion.

Meanwhile, in the fourth quarter of last year, Pelosi owned a group of cable TV networks, including The Weather Channel, and acquired Tegna’s national broadcasting empire to expand distribution, according to federal election commission filings. It is shown that he received a campaign donation of $271,300 from Allen trying to .

In the same quarter, Allen, who headlined the news earlier this month, Purchased a $100 million property in Malibu, California. — also donated $275,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which supports Democratic candidates for the House of Representatives, FEC filings show.

Nancy Pelosi opposes TV media merger — after getting big donation.
Byron Allen
Allen, who owns a group of cable TV networks including The Weather Channel, is looking to expand distribution by acquiring Tegna’s national broadcasting empire.
Getty Images for Culture Creator

“If she’s backing a major donor, it doesn’t look good, frankly,” said Craig Holman, a Capitol Hill lobbyist at the advocacy group Public Citizen, who has worked with Pelosi for 20 years on ethics issues. “This is how it’s often done when it comes to campaign finance. Donors give money in the hope of getting some kind of return.”

Pelosi’s Oct. 6 letter arrived despite Tegna’s TV station not being in her San Francisco congressional district. The donation from Allen was the only one he recorded for Pelosi. Sources close to the situation say Allen cut the check late last year as his own bid to buy Tegna began to settle funding issues.Tegna Agreed to sell to Standard General in February.

“It’s legal unless there’s an actual agreement between the parties. It’s a bribe,” Holman told the Post.

tegna sign
Tegna — a listed chain of 64 local TV stations spun off from Gannett in 2015 — has agreed to sell to hedge fund Standard General for $8.6 billion.

In the letter, Pelosi, along with Energy and Commerce Commission Chairman Frank Pallon Jr., feared the deal would raise cable rates, weigh on local news coverage and spur unemployment. In a written response to the FCC, Standard General denied plans to scale back local coverage and cut staff at the station, calling it speculation and stating that it would “reject such action. We promised in the FCC records that we weren’t planning on doing that.”

Meanwhile, a source close to Allen’s company, Allen Media Group, said: “Byron was going to cut his expenses by 30% if he bought Tegna, but that meant unemployment.”

“It’s not true,” Allen countered when contacted by the Post on Wednesday. .”

Henry Connelly, a spokesman for Pelosi, declined to comment on Allen’s donation. I wrote to the FCC with similar concerns 2017 on Sinclair Broadcasting’s proposal to acquire the station from Tribune Broadcasting. That deal, which was scrapped a year later, was controversial over Sinclair’s relationship with Donald Trump.

“Obviously, there are ‘legal experts’ who would be surprised to learn that the Speaker of the House routinely intervenes in matters of national importance, not just his constituency,” Connery said. said in a statement. “Democrats have long expressed concern to the FCC about the consolidation of local news outlets that drive up costs for consumers and hollow out local news coverage that is vital to the health of our democracy.”

Allen also told the Post, “The majority of Democratic politicians and PAC donations have nothing to do with Tegna, they are all about defending democracy.”

An FCC spokesperson said, “Based on long-standing precedent, the Commission does not comment on pending transactions. In this case, as in all cases, the Commission determined that the transfer or transfer would serve the public interest. I have a legal obligation to do so.”

Insiders believe that Pelosi’s conspiracy led to the FCC requesting more information from Standard General and Tegna on Sept. 29, a week before Pelosi sent the letter, and an initial merger investigation for at least several weeks from Oct. 18. He said he might be able to explain why it was terminated. deadline. In fact, according to one attorney, the House Legislative Office likely informed the FCC chairman of the forthcoming letter.

Federal Communications Commission Headquarters
Pelosi wrote to FCC Chairman Jessica Rosenworcel on October 6 expressing “serious concerns” about the deal with Tegna.
Shutterstock/Mark Van Saioc

“You don’t want to surprise the head of the agency when they’re in your party,” the attorney said.

It’s not unheard of for powerful politicians to put pressure on FCC commissioners on behalf of big donors, but “it’s unusual because she doesn’t have voters affected,” says law firm Fletcher Heald & Hildreth partner Marc Lipp said. She worked for the FCC for 14 years.

“I’ve seen some commissioners endure that kind of pressure and others give in,” Lipp said.

The NewsGuild-CWA and the Association of Broadcasters and Engineers-CWA, the most vocal opponents of the deal with Tegna, have asked the FCC for a record of why Tegna rejected Allen’s bid. The union’s attorney is David Goodfriend, who works as a lobbyist for Allen’s Weather Channel, according to the US House Clerk’s Office site.

“It doesn’t seem like a mere coincidence,” says Lipp.

The delay puts the deal with Tegna in jeopardy, according to insiders. Some speculate that FCC Chairman Rosenworcel will not bring the $24 a share deal to a vote in front of his four commissioners, essentially exercising a pocket veto. Sources say she has no legal obligation to bring the deal to the ballot.

Investors believe there is a 60% chance of a deal taking place based on Tegna’s closing price of $20.62 on Wednesday. Analysts believe Tegna shares could fall to around $16.50 without trading at $24 a share, traders said. Nancy Pelosi attacks media merger after huge campaign donation

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