FX focus a bit fuzzy at confab

Fox Inc.’s press conference Wednesday to announce some programs for its new FX basic cable network had the air of a bunch of bright young people who just decided to get together and put on a show.

Anne Sweeney, chairman and CEO of FX, said at the Western Cable Show in Anaheim that there’d be seven hours of live original programming a day. But with three months to go before FX kicks off March 1, there are still no hosts under contract for the previously announced “Breakfast Time” and such other “tentatively titled””tentative productions” as “Under Scrutiny,””FXercise, “”Garage Sale,””The Pet Show” and “Night Time.”

There’s “an ongoing talent search” being conducted by Fox executives for hosts and contributors to these shows, Sweeney said, adding that FX is looking for fresh faces — it’s unlikely there’ll be any recognizable names once Fox makes the selections.

A quarter a sub

Sweeney said cable systems representing 23 million subscribers have agreed to pay Fox a relatively steep monthly fee of 25 cents a sub to pick up the new network, although she declined to say how many subscribers will actually be on board on March 1.

These cable operator deals are tied to retransmission consent — i.e., all of the Fox-owned stations and most of its affiliates have agreed to let participating cable systems pick up their signals for no extra charge. The stations have given a six-month retransmission waiver to cable systems that haven’t agreed to take FX yet.

About 12 hours of programming a day on FX will feature old TV series, many of the shows culled from the 20th Fox library, but, again, Sweeney’s lips were sealed about specific oldie titles.

The most solid nugget out of the news conference was the linkup between Fox and Hughes Communications to establish a fifth cable satellite, Hughes’ Galaxy VII. FX will be the anchor of the new satellite. Jerry Farrell, president of Hughes Communications Galaxy, said the fifth satellite was needed because the other four are filled.

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