Chase Carey Talks Fox Network Turnaround, Web Pay TV Services

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UPDATED: At an investor conference, the 21st Century Fox president says the broadcast network remains a "work-in-progress" and says building new cable networks will be "a two to three year process."

Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox is optimistic about the outlook for its Fox broadcast network and recently launched cable networks, such as Fox Sports 1, even though their schedules will take time to strengthen, president and COO Chase Carey told an investor conference Tuesday.

Speaking at the Deutsche Bank Media, Internet & Telecom Conference in Palm Beach, Fla., he said the Fox broadcast network is "clearly [a] work-in-progress" following the cancellation of The X Factor.

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He said event series, such as the return of 24 and Gracepoint, and the ability to find new hits will be key to its success. "A focus on quality over quantity" and a focus on shows that are unique is what Fox is using to achieve that, he said. He concluded: "I feel pretty good."

Carey's appearance was webcast.

The Fox top executive on Tuesday also was asked about the kind of retransmission consent fees Fox gets, saying it is "not getting yet anything near fair value." But he emphasized that such payments will grow over time.

About new cable channels Fox Sports 1 and FXX, he said building such channels takes time. "They don't come out of the box," he said. "Building a network is really a two to three year process." But he said the sports network has seen some "nice progress on the ratings front."

Carey was also questioned about the outlook for much-discussed virtual pay TV services that have been tipped to launch this year. Dish, Verizon and others have considered such Internet-based pay TV offers.

"It's just a me-too service," Carey said in explaining the difficulty he sees for any service launch. "What does it make unique?" He said it must help content and other players "make the pie larger" and give consumers a better experience via better navigation or other things that make it stand out.

He said a service launch could happen in 2014. "A lot of people are still circling around there … nobody has landed yet," he said.

Twitter: @georgszalai