Will Lori Lizarraga get the last laugh at 9News after all?
Earlier this year Standard General launched what ultimately became a failed proxy fight to replace board members and oust TEGNA CEO Dave Lougee, himself a former KUSA executive.
The dispute reached a boiling point last spring when allegations of racist behavior at 9News from former reporter Lori Lizarraga prompted Standard General to escalate their shareholder rebellion against TEGNA.
Despite Standard General’s proxy fight failing, it appears their PR campaign against TEGNA has finally brought the TV station giant to the negotiating table.
An agreement between TEGNA and Standard General reportedly prohibits the investment firm from launching a proxy fight against TEGNA for at least a year.
In exchange TEGNA agreed to consider Standard General and Apollo’s bid.
Whether the acquisition will ultimately occur is an open question due to antitrust concerns that have reportedly emerged in the negotiations.
Still, an insider told the New York Post recently a deal was quite possible.
Multiple sources also told the New York Post that Standard General would remove TEGNA CEO Dave Lougee if a deal is struck.
This would be a big shakeup because the accusations against Lougee along with alleged misconduct at 9News were at the heart of Standard General’s filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission in April.
In other words, Standard General’s changes might not stop with the CEO if they ultimately acquire the company.
What that could mean for a station like 9News is an open question, but there’s every reason to wonder whether changes could be on the horizon.
Standard General participated in a forum with several Latina Democrats last spring where they collectively pledged to boycott 9News after Lizarraga published her editorial about her experiences at the station.
“We are pushing forward, and we are continuing to fight with [TEGNA]. And we’ll play it out however we have to,” an official with Standard General said at the time.
The negotiations between TEGNA and Standard General come amid other ongoing problems for KUSA’s brand in Colorado.
A case involving an unlicensed security guard working with 9News who killed Lee Keltner at a protest last year is still in the pre-trial phase.
The assailant, Matthew Dolloff, has been charged with 2nd degree murder.
Lizarraga told KNUS earlier this year she felt the tragedy compromised the station’s integrity.
“I was not alone in feeling like we had lost our integrity, or our ability to hold other people accountable,” she said.
Lizarraga also told KNUS she attempted to get answers internally about the circumstances that led to the shooting, but was unable to do so.
One has to wonder whether the possibility of that case advancing to trial and the likelihood of a wrongful death lawsuit is playing into TEGNA’s considerations at all.
Regardless, the negotiations between Standard General and TEGNA certainly do not lack intrigue.
Should TEGNA ultimately be sold, Lizarrga and others’ allegations against 9News will certainly have played a key role in pushing a deal forward.
And that’s something no one, 9News included, could ever have imagined seven months ago.