Standard General buys Tegna, including 11Alive and WATL-TV, for $5.4 billion

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Standard General, a New York-based hedge fund, has purchased Tegna’s TV stations, including Atlanta stations WXIA-TV (11Alive) and WATL-TV, for $5.4 billion.

Tegna has been on the block for more than two years. Several suitors have circled the company including Weather Channel owner Byron Allen’s Allen Media Group in partnership with Ares Management.

The Federal Communications Commission may scrutinize the deal for anti-trust reasons so the buyers will pay more if there are regulatory approval delays.

Standard General, which was founded by Soo Kim in 2007, had previously tried twice before to take over Tegna but failed. Once the deal is done, Kim will become chairman and Deb McDermott, who runs Standard Media, will be chief executive officer.

Apollo Global Management, another private equity group that also owns Atlanta’s WSB-TV, will receive a portion of Tegna but won’t have voting rights. Tegna will also sell stations in Austin, Dallas and Houston to Apollo’s Cox Media Group. (Cox Enterprises, which also owns The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, sold off its majority stake in Cox Media Group to Apollo in 2019 and now owns a minority stake.)

McLean, Va.-based Tegna owns 64 news stations in 51 markets and networks like the True Crime Network. It has owned Atlanta NBC affiliate 11Alive for many years. Tegna was once part of Gannett, which splintered into print and broadcast operations in 2015. Gannett purchased sister station WATL-TV in 2006 from Tribune.

11 Alive has had that moniker for 46 years and has been affiliated with NBC since 1980. Atlanta is the largest TV market where the NBC station is not owned by NBC itself.

My ATL (WATL-TV) runs lots of syndicated judge shows during the day, local news in primetime and “The Andy Griffith” show at 7:30 a.m. weekdays.