Trump TV? Reports swirl about the possibility

For months, Donald Trump has denied reports that he is quietly considering the launch of a television network or streaming service should he lose the presidential election.

“I have no interest in a media company,” Trump told the Washington Post last month. “False rumor.”

But the Financial Times reported Monday that the Republican nominee’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has had at least an informal discussion with an investment banker about the possibility of Trump TV. Kushner is one of Trump’s top campaign advisers.

According to the report, Kushner, who owns the New York Observer newspaper, recently contacted LionTree founder Aryeh Bourkoff, a well-known cable and digital media executive. Bourkoff served as an adviser on Verizon’s $4.4 billion takeover of AOL in 2015 and Charter Communications’ $78 billion merger with Time Warner Cable earlier this year.

“Their conversation was brief and has not progressed since,” the Times reported.

But news of their talk comes as Trump continues to rail against the media, claiming news outlets including CNN and the New York Times are conspiring with his rival, Hillary Clinton. Trump claims those outlets are part of a conspiracy to “rig” the system against him.

Jared Kushner and Stephen Bannon watch Donald Trump hold a campaign rally in Canton, Ohio, in September. (Mike Segar/Reuters)

Jared Kushner and Stephen Bannon watch Donald Trump at a campaign rally in Canton, Ohio, in September. (Mike Segar/Reuters)

And Trump has surrounded himself with people who are eager to capitalize on the populist movement that has propelled his rise — and the raucous audiences he attracts to his rallies.

In August, Trump hired Breitbart News chairman Steve Bannon as his campaign’s chief executive. And former Fox News chief Roger Ailes, Trump’s longtime friend, has been serving as an informal adviser to the candidate since being ousted from the top-rated cable network in July amid multiple allegations of sexual harassment.

And although Ailes would be prevented from working on a Trump startup because of a noncompete clause in his exit agreement, the Financial Times said, Fox News stars Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly would not. Hannity has been a close Trump campaign ally.

CNN’s Brian Stelter wrote in August, “After Election Day, if Hillary Clinton wins, Trump’s antimedia campaign could naturally turn into a marketing pitch like this: ‘The media rigged the election against us. That’s why we need our own channel.'”

But many media observers believe the successful launch of Trump-branded television network or digital streaming service is a long shot, at best.

Both Sarah Palin and Ron Paul tried — and failed — to launch subscription-based Web channels.

“In order to start anything remotely resembling a conglomerate, even a miniature one, Trump would need a partner to pay for it,” Vanity Fair’s Sarah Ellison wrote in June. “And he would likely have to purchase a cable channel from an existing player.”

According to Ellison, people in Trump’s orbit have looked at Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network as a possible model.

But, as Ellison noted, even Winfrey herself has advised against it.

“Had I known that it was this difficult,” Winfrey said in 2012, a year after OWN’s launch, “I might have done something else.”

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