Jared Kushner Talks of a Trump TV Network With a Media Deal Maker

By MAGGIE HABERMAN and EMILY STEEL/New York Times

Donald J. Trump’s son-in-law has discussed the possibility of a Trump-branded television network with a friend who has helped guide such deals.

Jared Kushner, who is married to Mr. Trump’s older daughter, Ivanka, had conversations about the idea with Aryeh B. Bourkoff, the chief executive of LionTree, a boutique investment bank that has helped advise media deals.

But such an effort, reported earlier on Monday by The Financial Times, would face enormous obstacles: Creating a television network would require a major cash investment, as well as a willingness by cable providers to carry the network. Without both, discussions of a television network would remain in the realm of fantasy.

About a month ago, Mr. Kushner informally reached out to Mr. Bourkoff, a veteran media investment banker, about setting up a Trump television channel, according to a person briefed on the matter. But the conversation with Mr. Bourkoff was brief and has not progressed since, and the banker is unlikely to work on such a network, this person added. Mr. Kushner and Mr. Bourkoff are friends and speak frequently.

A spokesman for LionTree declined to comment. Aides to Mr. Trump did not respond to an email seeking comment.

The New York Times reported in August that Mr. Kushner had explored the possibility of either creating a media property or acquiring one, and his talks with Mr. Bourkoff were part of that effort, according to a person briefed on the discussions, who asked for anonymity to discuss private conversations.

Within Mr. Trump’s campaign, top aides over the summer made reference to the possibility of running a media holding after the election, guided by the belief that the Republican nominee would win and such a property could help bolster his agenda, according to a person with direct knowledge of those discussions, who also asked for anonymity.

At the moment, Mr. Trump’s campaign is led by Stephen K. Bannon, who operates the hard-right website Breitbart. Mr. Trump’s campaign digital director, Brad Parscale, is close with Mr. Kushner and has done work for the Trump Organization in the past.

People close to the Trump campaign have noted the emphasis that Mr. Kushner has placed on digital advertising, as Mr. Parscale has amassed data that has limited applicable use in a political race.

But Mr. Trump himself is said to have expressed limited enthusiasm for the idea of “Trump TV.”

In an interview with the Washington Post in September, Mr. Trump denied that he was interested in pursuing a media property of his own.

Mr. Trump, who historically gets investors for his major projects, seems unlikely to put in large amounts of his own cash into a potentially risky venture.

The father-daughter investors Rebekah and Robert Mercer, who are said to have funded Breitbart operations and who are now supporting Mr. Trump, also do not appear to have the money to finance such an operation on their own.

What’s more, major cable providers like Charter, Time Warner Cable and Comcast might be reluctant to give Mr. Trump visibility by putting a Trump channel in their lineup.

When Rupert Murdoch created Fox News two decades ago, he faced hurdles in getting a channel from Time Warner Cable. Rudolph W. Giuliani, then the mayor of New York, helped broker a deal by which Fox would be aired broadly. Mr. Giuliani is now an adviser to Mr. Trump.

Starting a TV network is no easy feat, as Oprah Winfrey, the popular daytime host turned media mogul, learned.

In January 2008, Ms. Winfrey announced with much fanfare that she was teaming up with the media group Discovery Communications to start OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network. Ms. Winfrey would take on responsibility for the programming, while Discovery planned to convert its Discovery Health network to the new venture and help with distribution and other operations. OWN was expected to make its debut the next year.

But Ms. Winfrey struggled out of the gate. The start was delayed until January 2011, in part because of issues with programming the round-the-clock network. Discovery invested more than $500 million. It wasn’t until 2013 that the network broke even.

That was all during an easier time for television networks, before they faced such competition from streaming services like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu.

The experience is a lesson for anyone in just how arduous and costly it is to start a television network, land distribution, attract viewers and, ultimately, make money.

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