News Corp. president Peter Chernin said it was unlikely that EchoStar
Communications Corp. would throw a wrench into News Corp.'s negotiations to buy
direct-satellite broadcaster DirecTV Inc. by submitting a competing bid, citing
the possible regulatory problems an EchoStar bid would bring.
News Corp. has been negotiating with General Motors Corp. -- which owns a 30
percent stake in DirecTV parent Hughes Electronics Corp. -- for months about
buying that interest. Last week, in another earnings conference call, EchoStar
chairman Charlie Ergen hinted that his company could make a competing bid for
'We think one of the attractions to General Motors about our offer was its
apparent lack of any regulatory hurdles,' Chernin said in a conference call with
reporters discussing News Corp.'s fiscal third-quarter earnings. 'Personally, I
don't think the same thing can be said about EchoStar.'
For the quarter, News Corp.'s operating income fell about 15 percent to $356
million from $417 million, as weakness in its filmed entertainment and newspaper
segments offset strong results in cable operations. Operating revenue was up
slightly to $3.3 billion from $3.2 billion a year ago.
In the cable segment, operating income rose 26 percent to $24 million driven
by ratings and subscriber increases at Fox News Channel and FX. FNC posted its
second consecutive quarter of positive cash flow, and FX added about 13 million
subscribers in the period.