- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 19, 2007

NEW YORK (AP) — Rupert Murdoch, chief executive of the media conglomerate News Corp., said yesterday that a business news channel being started by Fox next month will be less confrontational and more consumer-focused than its rival CNBC.

“CNBC is a financial channel for Wall Street,” Mr. Murdoch told an investor conference sponsored by Goldman Sachs. “We’re for Main Street.

“They dwell too much on failures or scandals,” Mr. Murdoch said. “We want to put a lot on innovations and successes, people who are making money.”

News Corp.’s long-awaited Fox business network is scheduled to debut on Oct. 15 in about 34 million homes to go up against CNBC, which is owned by General Electric’s NBC Universal unit.

Mr. Murdoch said he expected to the channel to benefit right away from the newsgathering abilities of Wall Street Journal publisher Dow Jones & Co., which News Corp. agreed last month to buy for $5 billion. The deal is expected to close in a few months.

An arrangement that Dow Jones has with CNBC only covers business-related news, Mr. Murdoch said, allowing the new Fox channel to use Journal coverage of other areas such as Washington and lifestyle topics. CNBC’s deal with Dow Jones runs through 2012.

As for Dow Jones, Mr. Murdoch said he expects to see $100 million in cost savings that would be “low-hanging fruit.” But he also stressed that cost cuts are “not what we’re about — we’re about expanding revenues.”

Mr. Murdoch said Factiva, a news database service, was a Dow Jones business that could be developed more and marketed more aggressively. Mr. Murdoch said the business had been doing well since Dow Jones bought the other half of Factiva that it didn’t already own from Reuters Group PLC.

Following the Dow Jones deal, which was clinched only after months of struggle, Mr. Murdoch suggested that no other big deals were on the horizon. He staunchly defended his investment record, saying that he was derided as an “idiot” for starting up Fox News Channel, which he said is now worth about $10 billion, and said when he bought the social networking site MySpace two years ago, “you were all laughing at me.”

Mr. Murdoch also said he and his advisers were carefully considering whether to make more or all of the material on the Wall Street Journal’s Web site available for free.

That issue, he said, is “right on the front burner.” His comments came just one day after the New York Times said it would eliminate the fees it charged for access to certain parts of its Web site. The Times hopes that opening up access to the whole site will result in more people visiting and thus more advertising revenue.

The Journal has about 1 million paying online subscribers, the most of any newspaper, but Mr. Murdoch said the opportunities for gaining ad revenue most likely outweighed the benefits from the subscriptions.

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