In a turnaround, Cox Communications Inc. has reached a
corporate carriage deal with Fox News Channel, and it is starting to launch the services
in assorted markets across the country, both Cox and FNC officials confirmed.
The FNC rollout marks a turnaround for Cox, which several
years ago, under a programming chief who has since left, cast a wary eye on the News Corp.
channel after chairman Rupert Murdoch made some disparaging remarks about cable.
Cox will initially be rolling out FNC in markets such as
Omaha, Neb., and Oklahoma City. The latter system is also adding The History Channel,
reinstating Courtroom Television Network and dropping Odyssey, A Henson & Hallmark
Entertainment Network from expanded basic. FNC will debut in that market Jan. 5.
Back in 1997, relations between Cox and News Corp. were
strained after Murdoch bought a stake in EchoStar Communications Corp. He and his top
executives then proceeded to boast about direct-broadcast satellite taking over North
America and sending cable to Dr. Kevorkian.
At that time, Ajit Dalvi, then Cox's senior vice
president of programming, was quoted in the Los Angeles Times as saying, "You
never make statements about destroying your customer." Dalvi, who has since left Cox,
then said he was not inclined to test or roll out FNC.
As recently as last year, Cox dumped FNC from systems it
had purchased in the Phoenix suburbs from Tele-Communications Inc.