News Corp. plays harder to get

Chase Carey says Fox 'not just another channel'

If affiliates want to maintain access to "American Idol," "24," NFL games and the World Series, it could cost them a bit more cash, News Corp. COO Chase Carey suggested Monday.

Retransmission fees "transform the business," and in a good way if you're the company collecting them, he told analysts at the Credit Suisse Global Media & Communications Convergence Conference in Palm Beach, Fla.

Although careful to praise Fox's affiliate relationships, Carey said deals need to be struck that reflect the network's importance to the consumer.

"It's not just another channel," he said.

Neither is Fox News Channel. Carey said any cabler unfortunate enough to lose it would see 20% of their subscribers bolt.

Not that Carey wants to negotiate retransmission fees in public, but he wasn't shy about reminding anyone listening that Fox channels -- and especially Fox News -- have a passionate following.

Turning to film, Carey said he'd rather have the $2.7 billion that "Avatar" has generated worldwide than a best picture Oscar, not that the statue would have gone to him, anyway.

He didn't say exactly when "Avatar" will hit the home entertainment market but said its "initial thrust" will be Blu-ray and not 3D because the market for that technology on TV sets is too small.

Before Blu-ray, though, the Fox film studio will "take what we can out of the boxoffice," he said.

Carey also praised Apple's iPad, which doesn't hit stores until April 3. Being coy, he said News Corp. is looking to work with Apple on its upcoming device, which is sort of a giant, souped-up version of an iPod Touch.

He called iPad "a real multimedia experience," and he seemed especially interested in how it could rejuvenate the newspaper industry.

An iPad user reading a story in the Wall Street Journal, for example, could switch seamlessly to a Fox News video related to said story and stick around for a video advertisement. Or, while reading a DVD review, one could catch the trailer then purchase the movie with a couple of clicks.