Bush associates still consolidating their hold on US media
Diane Sweet
Published: Wednesday December 26, 2007

 del.icio.us |
Print This  Email This

Longtime associates of President George W. Bush are consolidating their hold on American media with a string of recent acquisitions.

Conservative media mogul Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. earlier this month announced the sale of 8 of its US television stations to a private equity firm -- Oak Hill Partners -- for an estimated $1.1 billion dollars that is expected to close sometime in 2008.

The deal leaves Murdoch with another 27 television stations in major US cities such as Boston, New York City, and Los Angeles, as well as The New York Post, a controlling interest in British Sky Broadcasting, movie studio 20th Century Fox, and Wall Street Journal publisher Dow Jones & Co Inc.

Oak Hill Partners lead investor Robert M. Bass, a longtime associate of President Bush, is also the founder of the Ft. Worth, Texas-based Bass Brothers Enterprises. Oak Hill issued a statement announcing the stations would be jointly managed by a broadcast holding company, Local TV, that was created by Oak Hill for the purpose of purchasing 9 other television stations from The New York Times previously this year.

Conservative ties for the Bass Brothers

Robert Bass, along with his brothers Lee, Ed, and Sid, from a wealthy Texas oil family, all attended Yale University where Ed was a classmate and friend of George W. Bush. The Bass family, through various political action committees, were heavy-hitting contributors to Bush's gubernatorial campaigns in Texas, according to the student watchdog group University of Texas Watch.

Robert Bass is also the founder and chairman of Aerion Corporation, which has been the recipient of several very lucrative DARPA contracts for the development of supersonic laminar flow wing studies, along with research and test flights.

News Corp. had originally intended to sell off nine of its US television stations; however Bass's subsidiary, Local TV, could not purchase WHBQ-TV in Memphis, Tennessee as it had previously purchased CBS affiliate WREG-TV: "Federal Communications Commission rules allow market duopolies but only one of the two stations under a single owner can be among the market's four top-rated stations there and there must be least eight unique station owners in the market once the duopoly is formed."

Local TV, LLC

From Local TV, LLC's homepage:

"The company will immediately focus on back office and administrative functions," adds Lawrence. "Then we will move to creating specialized knowledge teams for TV assets, addressing market-specific challenges and opportunities with special swat teams, developing vertical and homegrown content, and finding new ways to deploy capital. And that is just the beginning."

The site also lists among its holdings in a statement issued online prior to the News Corps purchase, 23 large and mid-size stations, as well as the nine small to mid-sized stations purchased from The New York Times.