New York— The much-talked-about business service from Fox News Channel has evidently nailed down a giant placeholder: Comcast.
The nation’s largest cable operator has agreed to offer the business channel to its digital subscribers, should it launch. The story, first reported by The New York Times, indicated that the new network would be available to 12 million Comcast subscribers. The business channel would also have distribution on DirecTV, which is 38%-owned by News Corp., parent of Fox News.
Comcast declined to comment on the report, which a Fox News spokeswoman would not confirm.
Industry executives familiar with the pact, though, said the business network at launch would be available to some 9 million Comcast digital subscribers.
Despite support from News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch, there has been no definitive word about a debut date for the business news service, although some believe a rollout could commence by the middle of 2007. Fox News officials have stated that the new service would not debut without sufficient carriage, which most observers figure would have to include Time Warner Cable and Cablevision Systems Corp., which serve the New York DMA, the home to this country’s financial capital.
Cablevision last month became the first distributor to agree to a renewal for Fox News, followed by DirecTV, as the cable news leader’s original 10-year contracts began to expire. Cablevision’s multiyear deal — averaging a monthly subscriber fee of 75 cents, triple the old rate — did not encompass a pact for the business channel.
Fox News, which continues to negotiate a renewal deal with the National Cable Television Cooperative, also did not extend its agreement with Comcast, according to the Times.
Time Warner and Comcast’s deals with Fox News don’t expire until fall 2007 and 2009, respectively, according to Wall Street analysts.