Giving the Koch Brothers a little break, the Washington Post has a scary story about how Sheldon Adelson is buying up all the media… in Israel.
Las Vegas casino magnate and GOP super donor Sheldon Adelson is gambling on a new venture. On Wednesday, after the Israeli antitrust authority approved his purchase of two more news outlets, the Jewish American billionaire upped his ante in the country’s media market.
Adelson already owns one of the four mainstream newspapers here, a free daily tabloid called Israel Hayom (Israel Today). He started that newspaper in 2007 and helped it grow to have the largest circulation in the country.
With his latest purchases, Adelson will now also control the main religious daily, Makor Rishon, which caters to Israel’s Zionist religious right, and NRG, the news Web site of the Maariv newspaper, which has faced a multitude of financial woes in the past few years.
So now he bought a newspaper and a… website. Or as Rupert Murdoch would call that, folding paper.
I’m not a big fan of tycoon journalism, or of some of Adelson’s politics, but the Israeli media is already a victim of tycoon journalism combined with rigid leftist politics. Adelson has been pretty good at disrupting its consensus.
When he couldn’t break into the paid market, he founded a free newspaper that blew away all the competition. That’s how free enterprise works, which is why Israeli media leftists hate it and do their best to suppress it.
Yisrael Hayom blew away the media giants, especially Yedioth Ahronoth, which had the dominant newspaper, a channel, a cable channel and a whole bunch of magazines and newspapers. And which is as biased as the rest of the media.
Is it better when the Mozes family owns a whole bunch of media properties?
Meanwhile the Jerusalem Post Group just bought Maariv. That’s big or would have been ten years ago. The internet devalues media properties.
That means Eli Azur will control the top rival free paper to Israel Hayom, two major papers, a bunch of local papers and a bunch of television interests. He finally gets Maariv, which he tried to take over and then successfully competed with until it had no choice but to give in. Maariv was the paper that Adelson originally wanted to buy.
But Adelson gets NRG.
I don’t think that these are particularly good developments, but the Israeli media is already terrible anyway. There as here, the only hope comes from the internet, and the internet is tainted by left-wing websites, but at least some independence is possible.