Murdoch: Comcast Will Flex Muscles11/22/2002 10:23 AM Eastern
News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch said that although he has had no
discussions with Comcast Corp., he expects the MSO to try to renegotiate
programming contracts, including those for his company's cable networks.
Comcast filed suit earlier in the week against Starz Encore Group LLC,
claiming that it shouldn't inherit or be bound by a controversial 25-year
carriage deal AT&T Broadband has with the programmer.
"I'm sure they will try to use the muscle that comes from their size,"
Murdoch said in a brief interview after Fox Entertainment Group's annual meeting
in New York this past week.
"But it depends on the strength of the channel," he added. "There are some
things they can't mess with that they would love to -- ESPN and the Fox Sports
networks. Those are cable networks that every [cable operator] has to have."
Another programming executive who wished to remain anonymous also said
Comcast would be selective in choosing which programmers to battle with and
which to leave alone.
"The first thing they're going to try and do is pick and choose [between
their AT&T Broadband and Comcast carriage deals]," the programmer said.
"Comcast is not going to get away with it with some people, because of their
contracts, but with others, they will."
The programmer continued, "I would expect [that Comcast is] going to be
careful about where they pick their fights . I don't think they're going to get
in a tussle with 12 people. I think they're going to squeeze everyone, but I
don't think they're going to file a complaint against a lot of people."
Comcast finalized its acquisition of AT&T Broadband this past