News Corp. is looking to increase subscriber fees for Fox News Channel in a new round of negotiations with distributors.
Chase Carey, COO of News Corp., speaking at the 38th Annual UBS Global Media and Communications Conference Wednesday, said that Fox News receives only a small fraction of the monthly per-subscriber license fees that ESPN gets.
"That channel in the cable world is right there with ESPN as important a channel as exists out there," he said. "Clearly, a lot of customers [would] move if it weren't there."
ESPN is the highest-priced national cable channel at more than $4 per subscriber per month. After its launch deals began expiring in 2006, Fox News Channel, now the longtime top-rated player in the cable news arena, was able to increase its fee to between 75 cents and $1. Now some of those deals are expiring opening the door to a new round of negotiations.
Carey said that other News Corp. cable channels also have opportunities to increase their sub fees, especially when compared to their more established competitors.
"Our channels are pretty new compared to a lot of their peers," he said, comparing National Geographic Channel to Discovery and FX to TNT and USA "If we make every channel a leader in its category, we've got a lot of room to grow."
News Corp. has also been seeking increased fees for retransmission of its Fox broadcast channel. Those efforts have largely been successful so far, Carey said.
Carey declined to disclose the terms of deals close recently with Cablevision Systems and Time Warner Cable, which became very public as deadlines came and went. But he did was "we were looking to what we thought was fair and we stuck to our guns. It takes two to make a deal . . . we achieved what we set out to achieve."
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