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Trump allies raising millions for new conservative TV network: report

Allies of President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden team wants to understand Trump effort to 'hollow out government agencies' Trump's remaking of the judicial system Overnight Defense: Trump transgender ban 'inflicts concrete harms,' study says | China objects to US admiral's Taiwan visit MORE have reportedly looked into investing in the conservative news outlet Newsmax to compete with Fox News, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal published on Sunday.

Hicks Equity Partners, a private-equity firm with connections to a co-chair of the Republican National Committee, have been in discussions in recent months with the media company about investing in Newsmax. The Journal reports the talks may also be part of larger efforts that could include a streaming video service.

Trump's allies have been exploring ways to compete with Fox News for the past two years, according to the Journal. Trump’s relationship with the network has been complicated. He has often shown appreciation for the support he receives from Fox News hosts and the network's coverage of his presidency has often influenced decisions he's made inside the White House. He has also lashed out at the network when it criticized him. 

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Trump recently posted a flurry of anti-Fox News tweets that attacked the network and lamented that it had forgotten the "golden goose" that made it successful. He appeared furious at the network's projection that Democrat Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden team wants to understand Trump effort to 'hollow out government agencies' Overnight Defense: Trump transgender ban 'inflicts concrete harms,' study says | China objects to US admiral's Taiwan visit Protect our world: How the Biden administration can save lives and economies worldwide MORE would be victorious in Arizona's presidential tally.

Any challenge to Fox News from the right would be fraught with challenges. Fox has been the cable news leader for years and averaged 6 million viewers during the week of the election, the Journal noted, a 22 percent hike from the previous month.

The Fox Corp.'s chief executive, Lachlan Murdoch, in a recent earnings call said the network "loves competition" while signaling confidence in his company's position.

"We have always on thrived with competition. And we have strong competition now," Murdoch said. "I would say the only difference today versus some years ago, as our audience has grown and our reach has grown, we see our competition as no longer only cable news providers, but also as the traditional broadcast networks. And, as you know, Fox News has been the number one network, including broadcast networks now, as I mentioned, through from Labor Day through to election day."

Newsmax’s viewership rose quickly after Election Day, the Journal reported, with the prime-time audience rising up to 223,000 viewers, a 156 percent increase.

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It reached only half of Fox's audience with 1 million viewers tuning in from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. last Thursday during the same time period.

Newsmax Media Chief Executive Officer Chris Ruddy denied reports of any deals with Trump allies.

“Newsmax never had any deal with the Hicks group, and if it’s true they were using our name for the purposes of capital fundraising, that is wholly inappropriate,” Ruddy said.

This story was updated at 8:50 a.m. Nov. 16.