Carey: Fox News Seeks "Significant" Increases

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News Corp. chief operating officer Chase Carey told an investor conference Monday that the media giant is expecting hefty carriage fee increases for its flagship Fox News Channel as it enters into renewal negotiations with distributors this year.
"Fox News Channel, in terms of finding a channel that has the enormous importance to its segment of the market is second only to ESPN," Carey said at the Deutsche Bank Securities Media & Telecom conference in Palm Beach, Fla., Monday. "That's what you live for in the cable business to have a channel that a sizeable segment of the audience needs to have. We head into our renewals on Fox News later this year in a big way. We have an opportunity to move Fox News to a place where we are able to capture the inherent value and importance of that channel to the marketplace out there."
Carey wouldn't say just how much FNC will be asking for or what distributors it will be negotiating with. The last time Fox News entered renewal negotiations - in 2006 and 2008 - it tripled its fees in some cases to about 75 cents per subscriber per month.
One major MSO that won't be at the negotiating table is Cablevision Systems, which reached a renewal agreement with the channel last year as part of earlier retransmission consent agreements. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Carey wouldn't tip his hand concerning the channel's current asking price, but stressed that it would reflect the value of the channel.
"We're not shy about being aggressive and asking enough," Carey said. "We expect there should be a significant increase in the value of Fox News. We're not asking what ESPN is asking, or anything close, but we'll take it to another level."
Carey added that Fox's regional sports business continues to show strength, despite teams looking for higher fees or to start their own networks. Last month, the NBA's Los Angeles Lakers reached deal with Time Warner Cable that would give the MSO the rights to Lakers games on two wholly owned RSNs. The 20-year agreement could be worth $3 billion or more in rights fees to the 16-time NBA champions. The Lakers had previously been on Fox Sports West.
Carey said that Fox generally has long-term contracts with teams - about 6 to 8 years - which protects its interests.
"You can have places, [as] we have recently in LA with the Lakers, [where] we won't do every deal," Carey said. "Usually what happens, like in that case we still have long term affiliation agreements to protect the channels, gives us opportunities to figure out how to replace and maintain the business. There are a lot of sports teams out there. We have a lot of contracts. College and the pros certainly add dimensions to it and we actually really believe that is a business we can continue to drive and continue to figure how we navigate those issues with the teams like we do with big national contracts."

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