Paul Allen's Charter Communications reached a
distribution agreement with Fox News Channel, and the MSO will roll the network out to 75
percent of its 6 million subscribers over the next three years, officials said last week.
Some of the Charter markets where FNC will gain carriage
include Fort Worth, Texas; Los Angeles; and St. Louis. The MSO will have roughly 6.2
million subscribers when pending acquisitions close, and FNC will get carriage to
three-quarters of them, an FNC spokeswoman said.
The all-news channel hadn't been carried on
Charter's old cable systems, although it does have distribution on nearly all of the
cable operations that the MSO has acquired this year. Those include Rifkin &
Associates Inc., InterMedia Partners, Bresnan Communications, Falcon Cable TV Corp., Fanch
Communications Inc., Renaissance Media Partners and American Cable Entertainment.
Charter recently resolved a dispute over license fees with
Fox Sports Net West 1 and FSN West 2 at its suburban Los Angeles systems, where the
programmer had temporarily pulled those networks' signals off.
When asked if the FNC rollout had anything to do with the
settlement of that dispute, Charter spokeswoman Anita Lamont said, "Charter has had a
lot of requests from customers for Fox News Channel. In trying to be responsive, this is
something we are happy to provide to them. Because we were able to resolve the issues in
California, it certainly became much easier to partner with Fox in launching Fox
FNC, part of News Corp., now reaches more than 41 million
households, and it has paid pricey launch fees to fuel its distribution growth. FNC
declined to comment on whether launch fees were paid to Charter.
Also last week, FNC named daytime anchor Shepard Smith
anchor of its signature evening newscast at 7 p.m., The Fox Report, effective Sept.
13. The Fox Report is currently anchored by Paula Zahn, who will take over the 10
p.m. slot being vacated by Catherine Crier. Crier is going to Courtroom Television
Smith will continue to anchor portions of FNC's
daytime lineup, where he has covered a variety of breaking-news stories, such as President
Clinton's impeachment trial.