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Fox’s Carey calls for change in NATPE talk

NEW ORLEANS — In an address to NATPE delegates Thursday, Fox Television chairman and chief ex-ecutive officer Chase Carey criticized the broadcast industry for not recognizing and adapting to changes in the marketplace.

“The reflex reaction of the leading players has been to try to prevent change rather than to adapt their strategies to embrace change,” Carey told some 500 execs at the opening morning session on the last day of the confab.

Carey accused the industry of continuing to follow a set of what he termed “arcane competitive practices” including monthlong sweeps, too many reruns and simultaneous launches of programs. All of these, he argued, were hampering the broadcast industry’s growth.

Like several other speakers throughout the NATPE panel sessions, Carey contended that the practice of monthlong Nielsen sweeps was leaving holes for alternative programmers to take advantage of during other times of the year.

He also said broadcasters should find ways to provide more original programming throughout the year and not leave Christmas and the summer as unchallenged launching pads for new competitors. He added that the practice of launching a large number of programs at the same time of the year “makes no sense.”

As for News Corp.’s plan to launch its direct-to-home satellite service, ASkyB, later this year, Carey pointed out that the challenge here in the U.S. was much greater than in Europe or Latin America, where News Corp. has a lot of experience in the satellite business.

“The dominance of local, over-the-air broadcasting in the U.S. makes the establishment of a successful DBS busi-ness a particular challenge,” he said.

Carey stressed that DBS will never progress from being a niche service domestically unless local-station broadcast signals are a part of the programming package. ASkyB’s main competitors, USSB and DirecTV, have not managed to offer local station signals as part of their program menus.

“We are 100% committed to making ASkyB a partner, not an adversary of local broadcasters,” Carey said. “For one thing, we would be foolish to threaten our own $9 billion investment in broadcast stations.”

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