The NAACP’s Missouri State Conference endorsed broadcast network Tegna’s planned $8.6 billion deal to go private with hedge fund Standard General LP, saying the acquiring company has a track record of investing in local news.

The NAACP urged the Federal Communications Commission in a letter posted Monday to approve the contentious deal once the agency completes an ongoing public interest review. Labor unions and other critics are fighting the transaction in part because they say it would eventually gut local investment in news operations.

But Standard General “has a history of investing in and improving local newsrooms and broadcast stations,” the NAACP said in its letter, which highlights positive feedback from the hedge fund’s experience with news organizations.

“Stations acquired by Standard General have reported that conditions for staff improved, with the company increasing the station employees’ health benefits, adding paid time off, implementing employee training programs, and investing in the station facilities,” wrote Adolphus Pruitt, president of the St. Louis City NAACP, on behalf of the state conference.

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Law 360 | by Christopher Cole