KGW-TV is being sold to a hedge fund … and that could be okay for workers


Media giant Tegna Inc. is being acquired by the New York based hedge fund Standard General for $5.4 billion, the companies said in a Feb. 22 announcement. Tegna was created in 2015 when the Gannett media company spun off its broadcast division as a separate company; it owns 64 TV stations around the United States, including KGW-TV in Portland and KING-TV in Seattle.

Standard General has long held significant amounts of Tegna stock.

So far, KGW-TV union reps are optimistic that the sale will have little impact on workers, and could even be an improvement versus continuing to have to deal with Tegna.

At KGW-TV, IATSE Local 600 represents about 26 camera operators and editors, IBEW Local 48 represents 11 technicians and engineers, and SAG-AFTRA represents on-air anchors and reporters. The unions regularly meet as part of a Pacific Northwest Broadcast Coalition.

Contract negotiations with Tegna have been notoriously contentious. In 2016, Tegna demanded an end its unions’ exclusive jurisdiction to represent all camera operators, which would have allowed Tegna to bring in non-union workers under different terms. It eventually dropped the proposal after stiff opposition from IATSE Local 600 and others. IBEW locals across the country also fought Tegna’s demands for union concessions on wages, overtime, severance, vacation schedules and more. The company faced unfair labor practice complaints in Portland; Seattle; Dallas; Washington, D.C.; Hartford, Connecticut; and McLean, Virginia.

In other words, bargaining with the new owners couldn’t be any worse than dealing with Tegna, IBEW Local 48 business representative Donna Hammond predicted.

In fact, Hammond pointed out, Standard General has been a critic of Tegna management. In an April 2021 letter to fellow Tegna stockholders, Standard General criticized Tegna CEO Dave Lougee for his $6.7 million salary (a 16% increase over 2020) at a time when the company’s stock price was declining and it was furloughing workers and cutting salaries for others. The letter also called him out for an incident at in industry lunch in which he mistook a Black media executive for a valet and asked him to fetch his car.

IBEW Local 48’s contract at KGW-TV expires in October. Hammond said negotiations will likely begin in July or August.

The sale to Standard General is expected to close in the last quarter of 2022. 



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