US & Canada

Trump TV: Is Donald Trump planning to launch a news channel?

Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump is shown on TV monitors in the media filing room on the campus of University of Nevada, Las Vegas, during the last 2016 U.S. presidential debate in Las Vegas, U.S., October 19, 2016. Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Donald Trump has been criticised for accusing the media of trying to rig the election

For months now, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has complained about being treated unfairly by the media and claimed the election is "rigged" in favour of his Democrat rival Hillary Clinton.

Then on Wednesday night, Mr Trump took matters into his own hands.

Minutes before the third and final presidential debate, the Trump campaign launched an alternative debate broadcast, streamed on Facebook live via the candidate's page and complete with Trump-styled political commentators and analysis.

The alternative broadcast, viewed by more than eight million people, could be the start of a new business venture for the New York tycoon: a Trump TV network.

Image copyright Twitter

On Monday, the Financial Times reported Mr Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, had informally approached a top media dealmaker to discuss setting up a network after the presidential election in November.

The Trump campaign denies there are plans for a channel, but the rumours suggest Mr Trump wants to capitalise on the anti-media sentiment he has drummed up among supporters.

Defectors from Fox?

Were Mr Trump to launch a network, he could likely rely on support from several "mainstream" conservative media talents, including Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly from Fox News.

Mr Hannity and Mr O'Reilly have clauses in their contracts that allow them leave the network after Roger Ailes's departure, according to the Financial Times.

They host two of the most popular shows on the network. A 2014 media study by Pew Research Center found that 19% of respondents who identified as mostly conservative and 45% of respondents who identified as consistently conservative got their political and government news from Mr Hannity's radio show.

Image caption Mr Trump's alternative broadcast streamed on Facebook live

Mr Hannity, a self-professed talk show host and effusive Trump supporter, came under fire earlier this year for a "soft-ball" interview he did with Mr Trump.

He responded to his critics saying, he "was not a journalist" and listeners should expect his interviews to be easier on Republican candidates because he believed in the "Republican vision".

Mr Trump could also likely count on support from Stephen Bannon, the chairman of right-wing news sites Breitbart, who currently runs the Trump campaign.

Roger Alies, the former head of Fox News and now ally of the Trump campaign, would be prohibited from working on a new Trump network due to the terms of his exit agreement with Fox.

Mr Ailes left the network in July after multiple sexual harassment claims were made against him.

Distrusting the 'crooked newspapers'

Statistics also suggest a "Trump News Network" could count on Republican voters for an audience.

The Pew study found that respondents who identified as consistently conservative almost exclusively trusted conservative leaning media and talk show personalities.

The majority of conservative respondents also said they distrusted more than half of American media outlets, including public broadcasters.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr Trump enjoys support from some of the country's most popular conservative talk show hosts

By contrast, liberals said they distrusted less than 30% of the media, with their greatest levels of distrust reserved for conservative news talk shows, such as Glenn Beck or Sean Hannity.

Comments on Mr Trump's Facebook page after Wednesday night's debate supported the idea that conservatives are likely to only trust their own media.

"Love seeing us millennials and are new way of communication, no need for the New York Times, Boston Global, & Crooked bias coverage of NEWSPAPERS! We are live and connected through the Internet!" wrote one supporter.

Another said: "A very sincere thank you for bringing the truth to light. Not to mention your unsurpassed bravery, again thank you for fighting for us!!! God Bless America!"