Satellite dream at an end

Jan 28, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Chase Carey just got tired of waiting.
The 48-year-old News Corp. veteran resigned as co-chief operating officer and president/CEO of Sky Global Networks, saying the stand-alone global satellite entity he was to have built out for the company is on indefinite hold.
But that does not mean News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch has abandoned his vision for global satellite domination. It just means it’s going to take more time.
Unstable world economies and stock markets keep News Corp. from merging its considerable global satellite holdings into a publicly traded entity. The plan’s kicker was to acquire the dominant domestic satellite service, DirecTV, and the Hughes Electronics subsidiary from General Motors. An 18-month courtship was spoiled by an eleventh-hour bid from rival EchoStar Communications, which is set to merge with DirecTV later this year. Insiders are betting that Mr. Murdoch eventually will acquire the combined company or buy DirecTV if the deal is scuttled by regulators. Still, that and an economic recovery will likely take more than a year-maybe even two years.
“That’s a lot of uncertainty and a long time to wait,” said Mr. Carey, who discussed other job options with Mr. Murdoch, including a wide-ranging role as a corporate “troubleshooter” that Mr. Carey considered “too vague.” “I want to run something of my own,” he said.
“That concept will continue and be pursued when the markets and opportunities are there so it makes sense. But there’s no clear short-term strategy,” Mr. Carey said. “These are still great assets that will grow and develop within News Corp., but not in the independent way originally planned.” The former Fox Television chairman and chief financial officer said he’ll remain as a consultant through 2002 on some ongoing issues and deals and will remain on the News Corp. board. “I have worked for Rupert for 15 years. He would have liked for me to stay. It’s a relationship I would expect and I hope will continue,” he said. Mr. Carey said he would take his time considering other options and has already had some discussions with interested parties.
Mr. Murdoch issued a statement saying he was accepting Mr. Carey’s resignation “with regret.”
“Chase’s vision, energy and leadership helped transform News Corp. into a global leader in broadcast and pay television,” Mr. Murdoch said. “While I will miss our daily interaction, I will continue to rely on his superb judgement.”