Cable Operators

Cox, Dish on Board with Fox Reality

12/12/2004 4:00 PM Eastern

Getting off to a real good start, Fox Reality Channel could be born next year with 17 million subscribers in tow.

Fox Cable Networks Group’s start-up, now expecting to bow early in the second quarter, has inked key distribution deals with No. 3 U.S. MSO Cox Communications Inc. and No. 2 direct-broadcast satellite platform EchoStar Communications Corp.’s Dish Network, sources said last week.

DirecTV Inc. -- controlled by Fox parent News Corp. -- is also expected to be on board at the launch of the service, which will feature a mix of library fare and original content.

Sources familiar with the negotiations said the Cox deal encompasses the 6.3 million-customer MSO’s digital platform, while Fox Reality will be positioned on 10.5 million-subscriber Dish’s “America’s Top 180” package.

Meanwhile, an executive-management team for the new network has yet to be announced. Industry sources said Fox has engaged in both an internal and external search for leadership.

Executives at Cox, EchoStar and DirecTV didn’t return calls by press time. Officials at Fox Cable declined to comment.

For more on Fox Reality and similar networks it will compete against, please see Mike Reynolds’ story on page 1 of Monday’s issue of Multichannel News.

March