Murdoch Hints at Fox Business Network Plans

News Corp. Chairman Also Crows About Success of Fox News Channel, MySpace
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New York -- Fox Business Network will rely heavily on The Wall Street Journal work force for commentary and color, Rupert Murdoch told a room full of investors at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference here Tuesday morning, and the channel will appeal to a broader audience than CNBC when it debuts next month.

“They’re Wall Street and we’re Main Street,” he said.

The News Corp. chairman was in a particularly feisty mood, often interrupting his interviewer to emphasize a point and freely taking pokes at CNBC, Facebook and even last year’s American Idol finalists.

While an existing deal obligates WSJ reporters to appear on CNBC, Murdoch -- who’s slated to take over WSJ parent Dow Jones later this year -- stressed that the pact was only for financial news. “There’s no reason why we can’t have them talk about politics, national affairs, international affairs, lifestyle, travel,” he added.

Murdoch feels that the market for financial news is better than ever before, and he said the new channel should be given time to grow. He pointed out that the detractors were in full voice when he launched Fox News Channel and acquired MySpace in the past, both of which saw their value vastly increase. “They said I was an idiot when we launched Fox News, and now it’s worth $10 billion,” he added, “and MySpace is worth [an estimated] 20 times what we paid.”

While talking about MySpace, Murdoch said the revenue potential was immense thanks to Fox Interactive Media’s testing of advertising targeted to the likes and tastes of the social-networking site’s 110 million users. “We think it’s a great deal more monetizable [than critics do],” he added. “If we can hyper-target it, it’s limitless.”

Murdoch ripped Facebook for what he perceived as safety shortcomings. Citing “safety officers” tasked with sniffing out stalkers on MySpace, he said of its rival, “They’re running into a problem. If you wanted to stalk a young girl on Facebook, it’d be very, very easy.”

Murdoch said News Corp. was not in acquisition mode, stated that he hadn’t made up his mind as to whether the Journal’s online model will continue to be subscription-based and challenged assertions that Fox blockbuster American Idol had lost its momentum. “It didn’t have the charismatic contestants [last season] that we had in past years,” he said, raising chuckles from the audience. “I think it has years and years of life in front of it.”

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