According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, President Donald Trump’s allies are trying to acquire the conservative-leaning privately owned One America News Network and to potentially take on Fox News Channel directly.
The Journal said that investment firm Hicks Equity Partners—which is owned by the family of Thomas Hicks Jr., co-chairman of the Republican National Committee and a close friend of Donald Trump Jr. is looking to acquire the company with the help of other wealthy GOP donors for roughly $250 million from San Diego based Herring Networks.
Even though Fox News dominates cable news and conservative cable news in particular, Hicks Equity Partners sees potential value in investing in OANN.
“Over the last 25 years, we have been active media investors. Any interest in OANN is from a purely business standpoint,” said Rick Newman, a partner at Hicks Equity Partners who is leading the deal with family patriarch and Trump donor Thomas Hicks.
One America News Network president Charles Herring said in an email to the Journal that the network has become “a reliable news source for a national audience,” adding that the company has seen interest from potential suitors from time to time. “With the 2020 political season in full swing, expressed interest is on the rise,” he wrote. “Yet our family didn’t build our operations to sell it.”
But OANN could benefit from a sale to someone with the financial ability to upgrade the network across the board and make it more attractive to cable TV companies who have largely shunned the network. OANN is available on only handful of cable systems including AT&T U-Verse, Direct-TV and Verizon FiOS, but is missing from Comcast, Charter Communications and DISH Network, three of the largest cable companies in the U.S. with 48 million subscribers. According to the company OANN reaches 35 million homes in the U.S. plus a small number overseas.
The network launched in 2013 and boasts that they report straight news with no opinion—in a stab at cable TV news in general and doesn’t subscribe to Nielsen ratings so there is no reliable data available on viewership.
Trump has been critical of Fox News from time to time and even tweeted that he watches OANN, but is well aware that if he wants to reach a large conservative audience, Fox News is the only way to do that.
For the potential buyers, OANN represents an inexpensive way to build a conservative alternative to Fox News while expanding the conservative media universe.