News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch says his company will launch a new U.S. channel, possibly by year's end. He also says that when Fox News Channel affiliation deals with cable operators come due, he will be looking for something on the order of double CNN's per-sub fee for the new agreements.
The talk for months has been that Fox might start a business or entertainment news channel. Appearing Thursday on Fox News Channel, Murdoch said the new channel might be sports, entertainment or another area of news. Now that News Corp. controls DirecTV, which counts nearly 13 million subscribers, the company has a formidable platform to launch new services.
Murdoch also took an opportunity to take a swipe at Fox News' rivals. "I'm amazed that CNN can't get its act together or that MSNBC doesn't seem to be able to get any traction. I guess one day they'll find something," Murdoch said.
Meanwhile, Fox News, he reminded viewers, is in fine shape. "Your ratings here on Fox just get better and better. It is showing in the earnings," he said.
He also put cable operators on notice. Fox News launched in 1996 and signed mostly 10-year carriage deals. Those pacts will start to come due in the next few years and Fox News will be hunting for more favorable terms. "We'll be going out there looking for something better than what CNN gets," Murdoch said. "We're giving them at least twice the prime time audience and day time audience too, so we'd like twice their rate."