Fox Biz Channel to open shop in Q4

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NEW YORK -- The Fox Business Channel will launch in the fourth quarter in at least 30 million homes, News Corp. confirmed Thursday.

The announcement made official what News Corp. chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch has hinted at for some time, most recently Wednesday and Thursday. The channel, which will directly challenge CNBC for domination in the small but lucrative financial news market, will be developed and overseen by Fox News Channel/Fox Television chairman and CEO Roger Ailes.

The business channel will be housed along with Fox News at the News Corp. headquarters in Midtown Manhattan and have initial distribution across the country, including New York, with Time Warner Cable, Comcast, Charter and DirecTV.

Murdoch said Thursday at Media Summit New York that the channel will be "a little more business friendly" than CNBC, which he said is often too negative and focused on financial scandals. He wouldn't talk much more about the programming, saying: "Everything we do, CNBC immediately will copy. ... Perhaps not everything."

For its part, CNBC didn't seem too worried publicly about the Fox Business Channel.

"Bring it on," a CNBC spokesman said. "We welcome the competition, if it ever shows up." He pointed out that CNBC is in the best position it's ever been in with stronger ratings.

Fox News executive vp Kevin Magee will be in charge of day-to-day operations of the channel, with senior vp and managing editor Neil Cavuto overseeing content and business news coverage. Alexis Glick, previously of CNBC and "Today," will work on air and also off as director of business news.

Thursday's announcement capped more than five years of speculation about the channel, with Murdoch talking about it in earnest since 2004. Murdoch and News Corp. president and COO Peter Chernin have been quoted many times saying that the channel was imminent, most recently Wednesday during News Corp.'s quarterly earnings conference call and Thursday morning, when Murdoch reiterated at a public appearance that the channel would be announced soon.

While Murdoch has been more than willing to discuss the need for a business channel and how he believes it will succeed, the executives who are tasked to carry out that vision -- Ailes and others -- have been more circumspect about talking about their plans. It has taken several years following the economic upset and turmoil of the dot-com crash and the Sept. 11 attacks for financial news to gain even a bit of the luster that it had in the go-go market of the 1990s.

The Fox Business Channel certainly would have good pedigree given Ailes' experiencing leading CNBC in the 1990s before jumping to News Corp. to start the phenomenally successful Fox News Channel; a number of other executives at Fox News also have CNBC experience. Fox News already has the top five business shows on television, including four weekend shows and Cavuto's daily afternoon program.

Murdoch admitted that the Fox Business Channel had been held up at times within News Corp. as the company tried to figure out its viability. But asked about its outlook given that CNBC's ratings often ebb and flow with the health of the stock market, Murdoch said, "There is a great opportunity there."

Georg Szalai contributed to this report.
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