Hicks Equity Partners, a private-equity firm with ties to a co-chair of the Republican National Committee, has held talks in recent months about acquiring and investing in Newsmax, according to people familiar with the matter, part of a larger effort that could also include a streaming-video service…

Creating a television network to rival Fox News, which has led the cable-news ratings for years, is a longshot. Newsmax’s average prime-time audience jumped 156% to 223,000 during the week of the election, according to Nielsen data, and last Thursday crossed one million viewers from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., about half of Fox’s audience during the time period. Sustaining those gains when interest in the election subsides won’t be easy. Fox averaged nearly six million prime-time viewers during the week of the election, about 22% higher than the previous four weeks.