Macquarie Media Group
Buys Into Texas Market
people know CorridorWatch.org is not inclined to jump on conspiracy
theories, especially since there's more than enough well documented
questionable activity to keep us very busy.
recent offer by Macquarie Media Group to purchase American
Consolidated Media (including Valley Newspapers Holdings) certainly
provides new fertile ground for the development of a host of
conspiracy theories. And in the end they might bear more truth than
TOLLROADSnews says, "The notion that Macquarie would buy influence
through buying a bunch of small newspapers sounds
far-fetched to us." They go on to comment that the
truth is probably boring, "But anything's possible, we suppose." At
CorridorWatch.org we have to agree that anything is possible,
but so far the truth has been anything but boring.
jumping to conclusions let's look at the facts we know.
Macquarie Media Group (MMG) and
Macquarie Infrastructure Group (MIG)
are subsidiaries of the same Australian parent company,
Macquarie Infrastructure Group is
aggressively pursuing infrastructure
investments in the Texas. Together with their Spanish
Macquarie has already engaged in
large projects including the Indiana
Toll Road, Chicago Skyway, and
407 ETR. With
Cintra having the lead role with
Texas on TTC-35 it is certainly
plausible that Macquarie is a
potential financial partner as individual facility development
agreements are negotiated. In such scenario
Macquarie has a vested interest in
seeing the TTC continue to move forward.
is the first newspaper acquisition ever initiated in North
America by MMG. Interestingly the ACM newspaper holdings being
purchased are heavily peppered along the routes actively under
consideration for TTC-35 and
TTC-69 toll roads through south,
central and east Texas.
The Dallas Morning News reported, "Edward
Atorino, media analyst at New York-based research firm Benchmark
Co., said the $80 million price tag represents the high end of
the range for newspaper properties today." That industry insider
analysis flies in the face of those who have suggested these
newspapers were going cheap.
road projects in Canada, Illinois and Indiana, while not
necessarily popular, have not generated the kind of vocal public
opposition they have experienced in Texas.
TTC is wildly unpopular, particularly in rural Texas. TxDOT held
55 public hearings in the summer of 2006 which 13,632 attended.
More than 90 percent of the 1,073 who spoke at those hearings
did so in strong opposition.
Texas is a very tough market to reach. Local radio and
newspapers provide the only consistent and cost-effective
coverage available. Organized and well funded pro-toll business
and industry groups like Texans for
Reliable Safe Transportation have limited success in getting
their pro-toll editorials into these community newspapers.
Likewise, public relations efforts by TxDOT have met with less
than desired levels of acceptance.
this generates more questions than answers.
small community newspaper in Texas (and some of Oklahoma)? Why now?
be interesting to see how MMG expands their Texas newspaper empire,
more specifically their geographic coverage. We will also be
watching to see how receptive these publications become to pro-toll
editorials in the future. If these fears develop into reality we
stand ready to remove the theory label from the conspiracy claim.