Media Oligopoly: Koch Brothers Eye $600 Million Newspaper Takeover
(MintPress) – Billionaire investors and conservative political activists Charles and David Koch are reportedly interested in acquiring Tribune Company newspapers for $600 million — a company owning the Chicago Tribune, the Baltimore Sun and the Los Angeles Times. The acquisition would add to the rapid consolidation of corporate media in the United States.
Just six corporate entities now own a majority of the most widely-circulated print media, potentially giving the conservative investors who donated $2.2 million to Republican candidates in 2012, a partisan platform to influence millions of readers.
Last week, allegations connecting the Koch brothers’ in the sale were reported by LA Weekly. Originally, the Los Angeles Times was the only paper up for sale, but the owner of the Tribune Company newspapers later announced that he wants to sell the entire media conglomerate for $600 million.
The purchase would be no great setback for Charles and David Koch — each worth roughly $34 billion, making them the fifth and sixth richest men in the world.
Representatives for Koch Industries, a multibillion dollar entrepreneurial company known for acquiring smaller companies, neither confirmed nor denied the allegations.
Missy Cohlmia, a spokeswoman for Koch Companies Public Sector, LLC, issued a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, saying “As an entrepreneurial company with 60,000 employees around the world, we are constantly exploring profitable opportunities in many industries and sectors.”
She added: “So, it is natural that our name would come up in connection with this rumor. We respect the independence of the journalistic institutions referenced in today’s news stories, but it is our long-standing policy not to comment on deals or rumors of deals we may or may not be exploring.”
Investors have a renewed interest in print news, once thought to be a poor investment because of readers’ growing preference for electronic news. Warren Buffett, a billionaire investment guru purchased 63 newspapers, including 23 dailies, from the debt-ridden Media General Company in a May 2012 acquisition.
The alleged Koch purchase would continue the rapid consolidation of newspapers and media in the United States, a trend that some believe could create a “media oligopoly” in which just a handful of corporations control the media.
Just six corporate entities: Bertelsman, Gannett, the Heart corporation, News corp., the Tribune company and the Washington Post own the majority of the most widely circulated newspapers and magazines in the U.S.
Many are also worried that the alleged acquisition would add an undue partisan slant to the reporting in Tribune Company newspapers. The Koch brothers have a long history of donating large sums to political campaigns. In the 2012 election cycle, The Kochs gave $2.2 million to mostly Republican candidates through their Americans for Prosperity (AFP) political action committee (PAC).
The Koch brothers have previously supported voter ID legislation restricting the right of citizens to cast ballots. They also played a pivotal role in the failed recall of Republican Governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin.
Walker championed right to work legislation limiting the collectively bargaining power of unions but survived a recall election July 2012 against Democratic challenger Tom Barrett.
The Koch brothers provided indirect support to Walker through $1 million in donations to the Republican Governors Association which in turn supported Walker financially.
This is in addition to the $125 million spent by the AFP PAC on campaign literature and voter outreach targeting 9 million voters in the 2012 election. The large expenditures might not have made a difference in the race for the White House, but they helped many Republican candidates win races in the House and Senate.
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