Carey Headed Back To News?


DirecTV Group CEO Chase Carey, coming off several quarters of stellar subscriber growth, may be headed back into the arms of News Corp. chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch by the end of the month, according to several published reports.
Carey, who steered DirecTV after Murdoch bought a controlling interest in the satellite TV giant in 2003 and stayed at the helm when Murdoch sold that interest to Liberty Media in 2008 for $10.2 billion, has a long history with News Corp., holding several top executive positions at Fox Television, Fox Sports, Fox Entertainment and the parent company since 1992.
Executives familiar with the negotiations confirmed the reports, adding that Carey is in "serious discussions" to become Murdoch's second in command.
According to the published reports, Carey would rejoin Murdoch as vice chairman, based in New York and taking on some of the responsibilities of former president and chief operating officer Peter Chernin, who announced his intention to leave the company in February. Chernin is scheduled to leave his position at News Corp. on June 30.
DirecTV spokesman Robert Mercer declined comment, citing the company's policy not to comment on rumor and speculation. News Corp. also declined to comment.
Speculation has been off and on ever since Liberty took control of DirecTV that Carey would rejoin News Corp., in some capacity. That speculation heated up after Chernin said he would leave the company in February.
Carey's star has been rising higher in the past several months as DirecTV has well outpaced its cable and satellite peers, reporting 460,000 net new subscriber additions in the first quarter, its best for customer growth in four years.  The No. 1 satellite TV service provider added 301,000 subscribers in the fourth quarter of 2008 and also landed a distribution deal with AT&T (usurping rival Dish Network) in February.
Miller Tabak media analyst David Joyce said that Carey would be a welcome addition to News Corp., adding that he has a long-standing relationship with Murdoch, knows the businesses and relieves the fears that Murdoch, who would have about 16 direct reports after Chernin leaves, would be a little stretched out.
Just who would take over for Carey remains to be seen. Some analysts pointed to senior vice president of strategy and development Derek Chang and executive vice president of operations Mike Palkovic as possible candidates. There is also the possibility that a replacement could come from within the ranks of Liberty Media, which has a reputation for keeping a stable of capable executives to fill in during similar situations.
If he does rejoin News Corp., Carey would not wield the same power as Chernin, who oversaw the company's film studios, television production and cable and broadcast channels. Shortly after Chernin announced his intention to leave, News Corp. initiated a management restructuring that gave control of the studios to Fox Entetrainment co-chairmen Jim Gianopulos and Tom Rothman, and oversight of the cable and broadcast channels to Fox Networks chairman Tony Vinciquerra.