Chase Carey talks paid content for Hulu

News Corp. exec calls for need to strengthen TV biz

NEW YORK -- News Corp. president, COO and deputy chairman Chase Carey on Wednesday spoke out in favor of the addition of paid offers to online video joint venture Hulu.com as part of a broader strategy to strengthen the challenged broadcast TV business model.

While free content has been key to establishing the site as a dominant player, he said, he would like to mix in paid services, but emphasized that such offers must still be discussed with the partners Disney and NBC Universal.

Speaking at the Bank of America -- Merrill Lynch Securities Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference in Marina Del Rey, Calif., on Wednesday, Carey -- for the second time since his return to News Corp. -- called for the need to strengthen the TV business. "The broadcasting business clearly needs to evolve to a healthier business model," he told the conference.

He mentioned possible retransmission deals and changes to the relationships with affiliatess and distributors, as well as windowing as opportunities. For example, he said, broadcasters must rethink how they rerun programs and how they use them online, including on Hulu.

With audiences fragmenting across the industry, broadcast audiences remain more valuable than others, he emphasized.

Carey on Wednesday also discussed the state of the advertising market, saying it has started feeling better in recent months.

Local ad markets especially have seen renewed activity by auto and finance companies, he added.

Carey said News Corp.'s TV networks did well in the upfront with prices "within spitting distance" of last year, or down less than 2%, as he then specified. The company held back more ad inventory in its upfront sales.

The News Corp. second-in-command also told the conference that the conglomerate's TV networks have more room to grow and improve.

For example, he said, Fox Business is now available in about 50 million homes but needs to further build its reach and programming.

Plus, Fox Soccer Channel has great growth potential, he added.

He also signaled an interest in pushing factual programming to new heights.

"Why isn't Nat Geo more like Discovery?" he asked when discussing other News Corp. channels. "I think we can do a lot more."

Asked about his appetite for acquisitions, Carey said: "You'd always rather be building than buying." He pointed to the launch of Fox, Fox News and Fox Business as examples for News Corp.'s success with creating its own businesses, but also acknowledged that acquisitions can get a company started in a business where it doesn't have a presence yet.
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