Time out, folks. Contrary to recent reports, the long-anticipated Fox Business Channel will not launch this month—or anytime soon.
Hoping to reel in the rumors, Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes tells Flash! that he’s not even close—no programming plans, no staff, nada. "If it’s imminent," he says, "it’s imminent without me."
The idea for the channel has been gestating since 2001. News Corp. chief Rupert Murdoch began pushing for it in 2004, but Ailes is reluctant to proceed unless wide distribution is assured: "I’m not interested in wandering around in the wilderness for a long time trying to beg people for subscribers."
Negotiations are tied up in renewal deals for the core channel. Fox News’ initial 10-year deals, at 25¢ monthly per subscriber, are expiring, and the network wants to up its license fee, big time: $1 per sub.
Getting its News Corp. cousin DirecTV to sign on to the new rate along with a new channel should go smoothly, but cable and DBS operators will likely agree to carry Fox Business only if Fox News offers a lower-cal sweetener.
But Ailes is firm: "We’re never going to bundle it. Why negotiate down the price of Fox News? I know what the value of Fox News is. We’re not prepared to lower that rate."