Thursday, June 6th, 2013

Koch’s Interest in the Media Business

Since March 12 there have been numerous news stories about Koch Industries’ possible interest in the acquisition of a media company.

In mid-May we posted this piece on KochFacts that included our statements on the potential acquisition of Tribune Company. It set forth facts about our company. As expected, there have been coordinated protests by political and organizational activists in several cities, including one that took place in Los Angeles on May 29. Captured on this video are comments from some of the protesters, including this remark by a Greenpeace activist saying: “Here’s the headline I want to see in the Los Angeles Times tomorrow: ‘Los Angeles to Koch Brothers: Drop Dead.’”

The video provides unfortunate evidence that the protesters are ill-informed about Koch’s beliefs and values as a company. Many of the attacks are personal, threatening, and unfounded. We hope these types of hate-filled demonstrations are a wake-up call for all who believe in civility, diversity, and respect, and who believe that free speech is a Constitutional right. For its part, Koch Industries does not and will never engage in hate speech. Koch will make investment decisions based on our own set of criteria and principles. In America, protesters have a right to protest; however we haven’t been intimidated by past politically motivated attacks, and we won’t be intimidated by these protests. The demonstrations carry no weight and have no influence on investment decisions we make.

Rather, Koch’s business decisions in any industry we consider are based on the value we believe we might offer to customers, or in the case of media, readers and or viewers. On June 3, Charles Koch and other executives at Koch Industries spoke to a Wall Street Journal reporter about the growth of Koch companies. We were asked about Koch’s potential interest in purchasing a media property. Mr. Koch told the reporter, “We think there are opportunities in various aspects of the media for us to apply our capabilities and create value. We’re in the early stages so we’re looking across a broad spectrum. We’re not ruling anything out at this point.”

The resulting June 5 story in the Wall Street Journal captures many of our on-the-record comments, including portions of this quote from Charles Koch:

“If we were to get involved in the media business, or more specifically in the newspaper business, our focus would not be to have a newspaper as a vehicle for what’s in our business interest or even our philosophical interest. We would have the best chance to succeed by, as we do with our other businesses, understanding what our customers value.  Going in, we believe this would be to offer real news, not just selective news and not news with spin on it. The editorial page would be a marketplace of ideas where all sorts of approaches to public policy issues are vetted and contrasted and there could be ongoing debate. We think this approach would create much more interest, more readers, and would ultimately improve newspapers as a business proposition.”

Finally, Koch Industries’ CFO, Steve Feilmeier, offered these thoughts in relation to any potential media purchase:

“We see incredible change in media and where there’s significant change, it’s often difficult for companies to take a long-term view, especially when they are public companies. We can create and add value to those situations because we are private, well capitalized, and can help a company take a view that is longer term. This makes it a win-win – for customers, for the company, for the previous stockholders and the new stockholders.”

Whether Koch acquires a media company remains to be seen. No decision has been made on this matter, but as the WSJ story makes clear, we are not ruling it out.
Related links:

Kurtz on Kochs Buying Newspapers: Liberal Warren Buffett Does it Without Compromising Journalism
By Noel Sheppard

Koch Confirms Interest in Acquiring Newspapers
By James R. Hagerty and William Launder
Wall Street Journal

Koch Confirms Interest In Newspapers As `Marketplace Of Ideas’
By Daniel Fisher

Zach Weissmueller Talks Anti-Koch Protest on Sirius XM’s Cam and Co. [Audio]
Reason Hit & Run

Koch LA Times Buyout Enrages Protesters: What We Saw at the “Save Our News” Rally [Video]
By Zach Weissmueller & Tracy Oppenheimer
Reason Hit & Run

Protesters explain: Kochs must not buy LA Times because … tolerance
By Ed Morrissey
Hot Air

Why is Daily Kos so afraid of some speech competition from the Koch Brothers?
By William A. Jacobson
Legal Insurrection

Why shouldn’t the Kochs buy newspapers?
By Cal Thomas
Tribune Media Services

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