Former Texas congressman Ron Paul has never been at a loss for ways to pass the time. Between his books – he’s got a new one out in September – speaking engagements, the presidential runs, and now his online venture the Ron Paul Channel, his professional pace has tended to belie his 78 years.
The newest of those enterprises is his just-launched subscription-based video “channel,” a platform presenting Paul’s unfettered commentary on the news of the day for which subscribers pay $9.95 a month. That gets them access to a handful of episodes a week featuring the indefatigable libertarian standard-bearer editorializing at length on his favorite subjects and interviewing friendly guests, with Paul broadcasting from Texas and most of the technicians working from California.
Paul, who says he doesn’t technically own the outlet, nevertheless sees its launch as typifying today’s media topography, in which mobile devices level the playing field for would-be publishers and let anyone with a microphone use new media to bypass old gatekeepers.
To help him take the plunge into new media, Paul is relying on an ownership group whose leadership has ties to prominent tech and venture capital firms.
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“When I left Congress, a lot of people came to me and suggested new ways to do the things I’ve done for a long time,” Paul told TIME. “They had different suggestions for different vehicles, but most of them were really using the Internet, since the Internet was always the friend of our campaigns and for our supporters to get organized. So I went with the group that offered to set up the ability for me to work from Texas and not have to go to New York or travel to communicate. They set this up where I could have an Internet-based program, which was attractive to me.
“We’re doing this because we believe the news is canned. That you don’t get independent analysis. The channel does have similarities to TV-type programming, but it really can’t be a news channel where you’re up on every second of the news around the world, because that costs many millions of dollars, so it’s limited to guests and commentary on policy.”
Indicative of his focus purely on his channel’s content – lots of foreboding about U.S. action in Syria, for example, and Paul’s usual castigation of the surveillance state – Paul did not have a number or estimate of subscribers, and did not immediately recall the name of the ownership group behind the Ron Paul Channel when asked. That group would be a California entity called Social Programming Network, which reported earlier this year it had raised a little more than $4 million in a private offering, according to a regulatory filing.
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Social Programming Network’s board of directors includes Jason Goldberg, a film and television producer who’s worked with Ashton Kutcher on productions like the TV show “Punk’d;” venture capitalist Shervin Pishevar, who has invested in companies including Klout, Gowalla, TaskRabbit and Tumblr, among others; and Dan Rosensweig, president and CEO of Chegg and a former Yahoo COO.
A spokesman for the group provided a statement to TIME about its work with Paul, noting that “the Social Programming Network provides a platform for what will become a number of channels to connect communities to content that is otherwise unavailable through traditional media. SPN is not ideological. We are working with Dr. Paul, the Alzheimer’s Association, and a number of other notable leaders and organizations to roll out specific programming on subscriber-based networks.”
Paul’s first interview on the service was with Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian journalist who helped break the news on NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. And he’s also used his platform to interview his son, Kentucky Republican senator Rand Paul.
Paul said Social Programming Network approached him with the idea for the channel.
“People did have to put up some money, and they had to look at the business sense, but they saw a market decision to be made,” he said. “I think the market is saying there are many people, and many young people, attracted to my ideas who use handheld devices, and these individuals are anxious to get real news. They don’t go to TV sets that much anymore. This is the wave of the future.”