Carey: Most Retrans Deals Up in 2-3 Years


News Corp. chief operating officer Chase Carey told analysts Wednesday that the bulk of its broadcast television station deals with cable, satellite and telco distributors expire in the next two-to-three years and that the media giant will most likely seek retransmission consent cash.

Speculation has been rampant in the past few days concerning News Corp.’s request for retrans cash from distributors for its owned and operated as well as its affiliated stations, with some reports suggesting that Fox could ask for as much as $1 per month per subscriber for the O&O’s. While Carey would not speculate on pricing, he did say that it is getting tougher to compete on the broadcast side with cable networks. However, he added that retrans isn’t the cure-all for what ails broadcasting stations.

News Corp. President and COO Chase Carey at the OnScreen Media Summit 2009

“Retransmission in many ways is a building block,” Carey said. “It’s very tough to compete with the cable channel business model of dual revenue streams without one for broadcasting. …I do think there are a lot of things you need to do to continue to build this business.”

He added that broadcast networks remain the “pinnacle of the content world.”

“They still get the biggest audience and the biggest events, and whether its sports or American Idol or 24, they are great launching platforms for the best in content in television,” Carey added.

While News is eyeing retrans agreements for its Fox broadcasting channels, chairman Rupert Murdoch said that the media giant is not currently in the hunt for another broadcaster, NBC Universal. News Corp. was among those speculated to be a potential rival bidder for NBCU, which according to reports is in deep negotiations with Comcast.

“We are not interested in NBC as such,” Murdoch said. “We are not in talks with anybody at the moment.”

But the programming giant stopped short of confirming reports that it has dropped out of the hunt for another cable network – the Travel Channel – citing non disclosure agreements with that network.

Carey did say that while News Corp. looks at every property that comes on the market, it has had the best luck with businesses it has built rather than bought. Murdoch took it a step further.

“If you look at us historically, most of our best profit-makers are things we either started from scratch or bought for peanuts,” Murdoch said.