News Corp. President Signals Coming Fight Over Fox News Fees

Chase Carey
Chase Carey
 Valerie Macon/Getty Images

News Corp. president and COO Chase Carey is bullish on the company's TV channels, emphasizing that the company soon expects bigger fees for the right to carry Fox News and that the international unit is "ahead of pace" of achieving $1 billion in operating profits by fiscal 2015.

Speaking at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference in New York, Carey said that talks with distributors over new carriage fees for Fox News will soon begin the next round of negotiations.

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"By the beginning of next calender year, we will have renegotiated half of that universe," he said. "We aim to take that business closer to what we think reflects the value of that channel."

Carey, who was formerly CEO of DirecTV, later pulled back on making any antagonistic posture towards cable and satellite companies. The News Corp. executive said that people get too hung up on price, and that customer experience matters. He's embracing the opportunities of the "TV Everywhere" chorus at this conference and said he recognized that there must be some level of partnership between broadcasters and distributors. "These are very healthy companies," he said. "If it's good for them, it is good for us."

In January, 2011, Fox International Channels set a five-year goal of more than doubling its operating profit from $411 million from the previous fiscal year to $1 billion in fiscal 2015.

Carey said the company is beating that pace, crediting a growing Latin America market as well as the way sports has bolstered some of the company's international channels by providing content that isn't fragmented despite escalating programming costs. "Sports upens up an array of opportunties," he said.

The moderator at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference then pointed out that sports on primetime Fox has become a more prevalent feature in recent months, mentioning a college football game recently between USC and Stanford.

Carey agreed, but quickly saw that the conversation might be leading to the suggestion that Fox might try to revive a national sports network. He seemed to dismiss such thinking.

"ESPN is in a different game," he said. "Fox is all about events. USC vs. Stanford fits into that mantra."

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Carey also addressed somewhat disappointing ratings of late for Fox, particularly for one the broadcast network's flagship programs, American Idol. Coming off of the show's lowest-rated season finale, the reality competition series has hired new judges including Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj and Keith Urban.

This has gotten Carey's thumbs up.

He says that producers have taken appropriate steps to "freshen Idol" and says about Fox overall, "I feel good about the network."

E-mail: eriq.gardner@thr.com; Twitter: @eriqgardner

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