News Corp. to change its tune with Apple


CAMBRIDGE, England -- Apple iTunes execs can expect a rough ride when they seek to renegotiate content deals with News Corp., the media giant's COO, Peter Chernin, said Friday.

Chernin, speaking at the Royal Television Society's biannual convention, said he expects the media giant's forthcoming discussions with Apple to be "prickly, dicey and contentious" when the companies meet to discuss relicensing News Corp. content to Apple's iTunes digital music store.

His comments come as the relationship between media giants and platform aggregators such as Apple becomes increasingly contentious. This month, NBC Universal, which provides almost one-third of iTunes' television sales, pulled out of relicensing talks. Universal Music also has backed out of its long-term contract with the download platform.

"I assume the negotiations (with Apple) will be prickly, dicey and contentious like all negotiations should be," Chernin said. "People will try to exercise all the leverage they can."

Chernin did not comment on speculation that News Corp. may follow NBC Universal in taking its content off the Apple platform, but he downplayed Apple's role as a key aggregator of News Corp. content.

"We have a pretty limited relationship with them," he said. "They sell some of our TV shows, but they don't license our movies."

Speaking on a panel about creativity here, Chernin told the elite of the U.K.'s broadcasting world that their organizations will "become toast" if they fail to put creativity and innovation at the core of their operations.

"Fragmentation has caused the death of the mediocre middle, and that is the best thing that could happen to television," he said. "There are huge rewards for those who innovate, and death to those who do not."