News Corp.’s Murdoch Plans CNBC Rival

Feb 6, 2006  •  Post A Comment

News Corp. will launch a rival to CNBC by the end of the year, company Chairman Rupert Murdoch told Newsweek in an interview expected to be published Feb. 13.

In the interview Mr. Murdoch said News Corp. is “in pretty intense discussions with the biggest cable companies, and making quite considerable progress. You can expect something fairly soon.” He added that the channel would be launched by the end of the year.

News Corp. officials have been keen for some time to launch a business channel, building upon the success of the company’s Fox News Channel. Plans call for FNC Chairman Roger Ailes to head up the effort. Mr. Murdoch and others have said the channel’s launch would be predicated upon its ability to get carriage.

Mr. Murdoch challenged the wisdom of Viacom’s recent breakup, in which broadcast and cable assets were divided into separate companies. He argued that Viacom shareholders have “made little or nothing,” and said the stock is now trading at pre-split levels.

He also rose to the defense of Time Warner Chairman Richard Parsons, who is currently battling with financier Carl Icahn about whether Time Warner should be broken up.

“They are well run,” Mr. Murdoch said. “If you split them apart, there’s no more than $1 or $2 in it for shareholders. … I don’t know what Icahn thinks he’s doing. Icahn has gone out on a limb. Even if he succeeds in getting it broken up-and that would be very sad-I don’t think he’d make any money out of it.”

Mr. Murdoch also questioned the wisdom of diving headfirst into offering video content on Apple Computer’s iTunes, as NBC and ABC have done.

“We’re not knocked out by iPod so far,” he said, adding that News Corp. has had talks with Apple, Google and others. “But how many people really want to get video on a tiny screen when they already have TiVo or a similar service from their cable company or DirecTV? How many will want to pay $1.99 on Monday morning if they missed ‘Desperate Housewives’ the night before? What’s been announced so far with iPod and Disney and NBC is very small-time at the moment.”