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Hot Air move to Salem is an audience buy

With the announcement timed to coincide with the Conservative Political Action Conference, which opened today in Washington D.C., the conservative blog Hot Air has been acquired from Michelle Malkin by Salem Communications.

Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) conservative political activism is visible in the fretwork of that deal. Salem’s board of directors features “Judge” Paul Pressler, architect of the SBC conservative takeover. Among Salem’s syndicated radio shows iare Richard Land Live, whose host is chief of the SBC Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, and the Albert Mohler Program, whose host is president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Mediaite alludes to that commercial political/religious binding when it writes:

Salem Communication defines itself as a leading U.S. radio broadcaster, Internet content provider, and magazine and book publisher targeting audiences interested in Christian and family-themed content and conservative values. Perhaps their most relevant property to this transaction is Townhall.com which claims itself to be the #1 conservative website. The “About Us” section of its website claims “Townhall.com pulls together political commentary and analysis from over 100 leading columnists and opinion leaders, research from 100 partner organizations, conservative talk-radio and a community of millions of grassroots conservatives.”

Debt-burdened Salem was “branded a ‘bottom rung’ company by Moody’s Investors Service” because is saddled with “the weight of $320 million in debt.” And HotAir brings to that business mix a large audience injection, with attendant potential for increased advertising revenue:

Hot Air ranks as the seventh-largest conservative website over the past three months, according to rankings from the Web information company Alexa — though the rankings include Fox News, The Wall Street Journal and Drudge Report

Townhall, meanwhile, had the 12th-largest audience over the same time.

We’ll see whether the ideological synergies are sufficiently financial.

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February 18, 2010 - Posted by | Publications, SBC, WWW | , , , , , ,

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