With Sinclair station deal, Standard General is rebuilding an empire from scratch

Standard Media will focus on more station acquisitions and on building up the local news operations at its stations. (Pixabay)

Standard Media, owned by investment firm Standard General, emerged as one of the big buyers amid Sinclair’s recently announced station sales. For the company, it’s a first step toward something larger.

Standard General has about $1 billion in assets under its management in both private and public markets, and it has a long history of investing in the media sector. In 2010, Standard General became a major shareholder in Young Broadcasting, and by 2012 it moved to become majority owner. In 2013, Young merged with Media General and took on its moniker. Then in 2014, Media General bought LIN Media and its 43 TV stations for $1.6 billion and in 2016, Media General was acquired by Nexstar for $4.6 billion.

With Standard Media’s $442 million acquisition of nine Sinclair TV stations in several midsized markets, history is repeating itself. David Glazek, a partner at Standard General, said his firm is starting from scratch with the “first in what we hope will be many” broadcast station deals.

Guiding the growth strategy for Standard Media will be newly appointed CEO Deb McDermott. She’s been part of Standard General’s broadcast strategy from the beginning, formerly serving as CEO of Young Broadcasting and chief operations officer at Media General. Now she’s running Standard Media, where Glazek said she’ll focus on building strong local news operations for the company’s stations and on growing Standard Media through continued consolidation.

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"The stations we are acquiring in this transaction have tremendous potential in excellent markets," McDermott said in a release. "We are excited to work with the talented station teams established by Sinclair and Tribune and grow the business for years to come. Following this transaction, Standard Media will be well positioned to make further accretive acquisitions and we believe there is a compelling market opportunity to create another large player in the consolidating broadcast TV industry."

Glazek said Standard General thinks there’s a compelling market opportunity to create a new aggregator of TV stations. He said a lot of the big players in broadcast have already consolidated a lot and have optimized their portfolios, but now they’re at the point where they can’t do a lot of tuck-in acquisitions because of regulatory and antitrust concerns. That’s where Standard Media will focus its growth strategy, on acquiring independent stations.

“We’ve been in the business previously so we have a pretty good view of the landscape,” said Glazek. “We’re fairly confident we’ll be able to get more deals done. We’re excited.”