Murdoch sets sights on cable TV revenue

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Rupert Murdoch, chairman and chief executive of News Corp, said his 35 US television stations could “one day” receive a significant financial boost by charging cable and satellite operators for showing their free-to-air broadcasts.

The expectation of such “retransmission consent” payments, charges which are usually waived in exchange for carriage of cable television channels, is one reason why Mr Murdoch remains positive on prospects for the television stations, he told the Financial Times this week.

Pressure on advertising revenues as attention shifts to the internet and away from scheduled television programming, and amid growing content expenses, has led some station owners to start calling for retransmission payments, which could generate hundreds of millions of dollars in extra cash.

“One day [we] will get a breakthrough and get retransmission money from cable,” Mr Murdoch said. “They say over our dead bodies, but one day someone with nothing to lose like CBS will break through and then everyone will follow.”

Mr Murdoch did not eleborate, but his statements are somewhat surprising given News Corp’s 38 per cent stake in DirecTV, the satellite operator, and the fact that News Corp cable channels such as Fox News and others are currently part of deals which allow the free showing of television stations.

CBS, which split away from Viacom at the start of the year and as a result seperated its broadcast television from its cable television businesses, it trying to push cable, satellite and telecommunications groups to pay it retransmission fees.

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