Rupe moves toward new U.K. TV push

Rupert Murdoch‘s Fox Television has been quietly staffing up to launch an entertainment web in Blighty on paybox BSkyB, in which News Corp. holds a 35.4% stake.

Fox Intl. Channels U.K., the division responsible for launching the new FX channel in first-quarter 2004 — is understood to be plotting other channel launches.

The division has just hired Jason Thorp, director of programming at the Sci Fi Channel, to run its U.K. FX channel. More appointments are expected shortly.

No programming details have been released, but sources say FX will be more of an archive channel running library titles, and will not compete for the same audience as entertainment web Sky One.

Fox could partner on a new channel with HBO, which is toying with the idea of launching in Blighty. HBO also could team with BSkyB, which already has joint-venture channels with Nickelodeon and National Geographic. Commercial web ITV is understood to be looking for a partner to launch a kids channel.

Any new Fox U.K. channel, however, would have to compete with both Sky One and the terrestrial channels for any Fox shows.

So why do Murdoch and News Corp. want Fox in the U.K.? The answer is profit. News Corp.’s culture encourages everyone to compete, even with those ventures in which Murdoch has a significant interest. It might make life difficult for Sky One, but it’s not personal, it’s just business.

Signs of creeping Foxification are cropping up in Blighty already. Sky News has just ordered a second run of talkshow “Littlejohn,” hosted by rightwing Sun columnist Richard Littlejohn. The show, which has built a strong fan base over the past six months, has been likened to Fox’s top-rated “The O’Reilly Factor,” hosted by Bill O’Reilly.

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