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Murdoch Moving Ahead With Biz Channel Launch

Sep 21, 2005  •  Post A Comment

News Corp. Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch said Wednesday that his company is negotiating with cable operators to launch a business-themed cable channel, though the arrival might come later than he has predicted previously.

Speaking at a Goldman Sachs investor conference in New York, Mr. Murdoch said the launch of the Fox Business Channel would likely not happen in the early months of 2006, as he has indicated in the past, “but certainly soon.”

Mr. Murdoch’s comments were the clearest sign yet that he remains committed to launching a rival to NBC Universal’s CNBC. There have been mixed signals about whether the company would press ahead with a plan to launch a business channel, in large part because Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes, who would oversee the project, reportedly has been unsure whether a business channel could replicate the out-of-the-box success of Fox News Channel, particularly given the challenges facing the business news space.

Meanwhile, Mr. Murdoch said his company was “99 percent there” in terms of inking a content distribution agreement with telephone company Verizon Communications, which continued to beef up its programming offering by striking a deal earlier Wednesday with The Walt Disney Co.

Mr. Murdoch said he expects his company’s Web assets to generate between $500 million and $1 billion in revenue in the next five years. He also indicated that no progress had been made between News Corp. and John Malone’s Liberty Media regarding discussions on Liberty’s 18 percent ownership stake in News Corp.

When asked whether the company has formulated a succession plan for Mr. Murdoch’s replacement, Mr. Murdoch said, “That’s a matter for my directors.”