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December 18, 2013 1:09 PM Yesterday’s News?

By Ed Kilgore

As TPM’s Dylan Scott reports, there’s a new wave of consolidation going on in the conservative blogosphere that could have a significant effect on its content and coordination:

Salem Communications, which got its start in the 1980s in talk radio, formally announced its purchase of Twitchy, the conservative social media tracker founded and run by Michelle Malkin. It also reportedly finalized a deal to acquire Red State, best known for the punditry of its editor-in-chief Erick Erickson, and several affiliated properties in January. Both moves were first reported by BuzzFeed….
[I]n the insular world of conservative media, those are a pair of mammoth additions in less than a week. And in the eyes of Salem’s competitors, it could spark an arms race of acquisitions. The kind of media ownership consolidation that some on the right decry in the mainstream media seems to be now seeping into their world as well. Small scrappy start-ups are suddenly being swallowed up by more established corporations with a lot of money to spend.

If you wonder what “faction” in the supposedly fractured GOP Salem is aligned with, there’s this:

The powers that be behind Salem Communications are religious conservative standard-bearers. Stuart Epperson, chairman of the board, and Edward Atsinger, the CEO, have both been members of the secretive Council for National Policy, a group that hosted George W. Bush as he launched his bid for president and was called “the genuine leaders of the Republican Party” in a 2005 New York Times profile.

I guess if you tend to write off the Christian Right as yesterday’s news, you won’t be that impressed with Salem’s growth potential. But look at the numbers:

The audience numbers are significant: Twitchy self-reports 12 million unique page views per month, and BuzzFeed reported that Eagle Publishing’s properties, led by Red State, attract five million page views per month combined. New audiences could also mean more email addresses to sell to advertisers, a reportedly major part of TownHall’s and other conservative outlets’ revenue stream. The terms of the sales were not disclosed.
The addition of Regnery Publishing, which is a part of Eagle Publishing, gives Salem the opportunity for “full-brand management”: radio, digital and book deals can all co-exist under one roof. That is critical in the current cross-promotional, multi-platform media environment.
With Salem flexing its acquisition muscle — the company had total revenue of almost $229 million in revenue in 2012 — it could be pushing its conservative competitors to do the same. By picking up two well-known targets in the span of a few days, it put the rest of the right-wing media universe on notice.

And it put the rest of us on notice, too.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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