Fox in business with TWC deal

Carriage agreement nudges net toward biz channel

Time Warner Cable has reached a wide-ranging deal with News Corp. that renews ahead of schedule its carriage agreement with Fox News Channel and Fox stations and also boosts the likelihood that the much-discussed Fox Business Channel will launch this year.

It also will bring to Time Warner Cable systems the Fox Reality channel.

The FNC part of the deal, believed to be like Cablevision Systems' on the average of 75 cents per subscriber per month, gives News Corp. another big payday for the 10-year-old cable news network that had been getting about 25 cents per sub under the previous deals.

A key part of the deal is the "placeholder" agreement that would commit Time Warner Cable to carrying the Fox Business Channel if and when it is launched.

Sources said TWC would give the Fox Business Channel analog placement in Manhattan and the digital tier in the rest of its 11 million-13 million homes nationwide. TWC also would pay a little less than 15 cents per subscriber per month for the business channel, which Fox News has said wouldn't be launched until it got adequate distribution.

News Corp. has said that it wants to bow the business channel — which would directly compete with CNBC, a cash cow for General Electric's NBC — this year.

Until recently, preparations for the business channel have been below the surface, though Fox News recently hired former CNBC and "Today" show co-host Alexis Glick to play a behind-the-scenes role in its development. And it's closing in on the amount of distribution that Fox News said would be required before a channel was launched.

A Fox News Channel spokeswoman on Wednesday confirmed the TWC deal but wouldn't discuss specifics.

A TWC spokesman also confirmed that the companies have "concluded a global deal" with multiyear carriage arrangement without breaking out more specifics.

The deal had been reached over the holiday weekend even though TWC's carriage agreements with Fox News didn't run out until the fall. Also part of the deal was the renewal of carriage agreements with the Fox Television Stations Group.

The TWC agreement is apparently the first time Fox News has gotten a commitment of subscriber fees from a distribution company. It already has a deal in place with satellite TV giant DirecTV, control of which News Corp. recently agreed to hand over to John Malone's Liberty Media, and a placeholder deal with the country's largest cable provider, Comcast Corp.

In a separate development, TWC said Wednesday it has countersued AT&T, charging it with damaging its network. Last month, AT&T sued TWC, alleging the company trespassed and damaged its network while connecting customers to its rival telephony service.

The companies compete with each other for telephony subscribers, which have been a boon for cable firms, but they are required to cooperate to make sure that calls between customers using rival providers get completed.

In a statement, TWC said its lawsuit claims that "AT&T's actions have caused substantial damage to its physical plant, disrupted service to TWC's customers and threatened public safety."

Georg Szalai contributed to this report.
comments powered by Disqus