Is It Really "Business As Usual" At RightNetwork?

Blog ››› ››› BEN DIMIERO & JOE STRUPP

RightNetwork, the conservative media outlet that launched less than a year ago with great fanfare -- and investors that included actor Kelsey Grammer -- appears to have stalled for more than a month.

RightNetwork.com, which features video and other content, has not been updated since late June, and the network's Twitter feed and Facebook pages have been stagnant since May 31.

RightNetwork President Kevin McFeeley claims it is "business as usual," an answer he gave several times when asked specifically about a lack of new programming and web items, as well as about the status of the network's future funding.

But from the looks of the site, launched Sept. 8, 2010, things appear to be at a standstill.

The most recent videos on RightNetwork's website appear to be several Father's Day messages from soldiers posted on June 17.

The top of RightNetwork's website still features an episode of Drive Thru History, a video series produced by Dallas-based ColdWaterMedia, that was posted May 31.

Blogger Jim Hoft, whose presence at RightNetwork seemingly drove plenty of traffic to their site, inexplicably jumped ship on June 7, offering this notice on his GatewayPundit.com blog:

I also want to thank Right Network for hosting me these last 6 months.

Asked why RightNetwork's website hadn't been updated in more than a month, McFeeley -- who spoke with Media Matters Aug. 4 -- said: "Our social media guy accepted an offer somewhere else, so, you know, we're trying to replace him. But, It's just business as usual."

When pressed on the issue, McFeeley insisted that while RightNetwork's Twitter feed hadn't been updated, the network had released new videos since late June, adding, "And like I said, the guy who was tasked with that responsibility left us about a month ago."

Asked to clarify which videos had supposedly been posted since June, McFeeley refused to give specifics:

MEDIA MATTERS: What videos were updated? It looks like the latest was Father's Day.

McFEELEY: There's been some other videos since then. We're still actively fundraising and it's business as usual over at RightNetwork.

MEDIA MATTERS: Can I ask what the last video was just so we can see?

McFEELEY: I couldn't answer that. All I can tell you is the guy who was tasked with that hasn't been with us for about a month.

Asked whether other things on RightNetwork's website had been updated in the last month, McFeeley replied, "Again, I don't know, it's not my responsibility."

But later in the interview, McFeeley acknowledged, "You can see for yourself that it's not refreshing the way it was."

Asked what "kind of fundraising" the network was currently engaged in, McFeeley responded, "We are actively fundraising. I think that's really kind of the message we want to put out there."

When the network launched last year, it touted itself as a conservative media alternative and vowed to have content for its website, mobile phones, and video on demand. According to a Sept. 8, 2010, Associated Press story:

It is initially making programming available through video-on-demand services, the Internet and through mobile phones, bypassing the route of traditional TV networks with a spot on channel lineups.

Investors hope that the support of a conservative audience that has made Fox News Channel and radio hosts such as Rush Limbaugh successful could also work for entertainment programming, said Kevin McFeeley, RightNetwork's president.

"We feel the precedent has been set," he said.

Grammer, the Emmy-winning star of "Frasier," said the network represented a desire by him and some political friends "to stop allowing people who hate us to define us."

"If you have NBC, ABC, you have entire networks flooded with a very particular point of view," he said. "They won't admit it, but it's clearly the way it is. There's plenty of room for us."

RightNetwork's website includes a list of outlets that were to provide its programming, for example: Verizon FiOS, ITunes, Hulu, and Amazon.com.

A check of those outlets finds ITunes and Amazon.com are still offering digital videos of some RightNetwork shows for sale, but none of them date beyond 2010.

A Verizon FiOS spokesperson confirmed it still offers some RightNetwork programs on demand, but had no information about what their popularity has been.

A Media Matters check of Verizon FiOS last week found a list of RightNetwork shows and episodes still available, but none that were released after 2010.

Hulu has online access to four RightNetwork programs, with the most recent episode dated February 2011.

McFeeley said the company is still seeking funds and "actively fundraising," but had no specifics about funding or new investment.

"We're just speaking with folks about investing in the company and the concept," he said. "That's just sort of business as usual."

Kivi Rogers, a comedian who had worked on a comedy sketch show for RightNetwork in 2010, hinted that funding problems were already appearing last year. He also appeared in the premiere of a stand-up show on RightNetwork called Right2Laugh. RightNetwork's website has three episodes of Right2Laugh, the most recent of which was posted in December 2010.

He said the comedy show only produced a pilot that was never posted or broadcast anywhere.

After first agreeing to work on the comedy show in May 2010, Rogers said several months of production went into the show before the pilot was shot in September 2010. But he said the production disbanded in late November 2010 due to financial constraints.

"The funding kind of went away," he recalls, offering no specifics. "They were telling me they were waiting for these big investments to come in -- these big investors... that part never came through."

Among the initial investors was Ed Snider, chairman of Comcast-Spectacor of Philadelphia. Asked for comment, his office referred questions to McFeeley, stating in an e-mail that Snider "is merely an investor and would prefer to have Kevin speak about the network."

McFeeley offered no information on how RightNetwork is operating beyond the website, or even how many employees it has.

Asked when the website might be updated, he said:

"Keep posted, keep checking back and you'll know as soon as it's new."

Jess Levin contributed to this report.

Network/Outlet
RightNetwork
Person
Kelsey Grammer
Stories/Interests
Investigations
We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.