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FNC, Sirius cross words over talker

Radio net Fox News Talk at center of battle

A dispute has erupted between Fox News Channel and Sirius Satellite Radio over the carriage of Fox’s new radio network, Fox News Talk.

Fox had been in talks with Sirius to carry the network, featuring the radio shows of Fox personalities Bill O’Reilly, Alan Colmes, Tony Snow and John Gibson.

But talks broke down and Fox says Sirius removed Colmes’ syndicated show from its “America Left” channel on Monday and replaced it with liberal talk show host Stephanie Miller.

Fox News Radio senior veep Kevin Magee said he doesn’t know why Sirius pulled Colmes’ show, but when he tried to get the signal back on the air, he got no response from Sirius executives.

“So we pulled the audio of Fox News Channel, which caused quite a stir over there,” Magee said.

The audio was down for several hours on Wednesday, Fox said, during which time Sirius took the signal from another source, apparently a television transmission of FNC.

After Sirius agreed to restore Colmes to the evening lineup, Fox restored its audio feed.

A Sirius spokesman denied that any programming had been pulled from the network.

“If you turn on channel 133, you will hear Fox News just as you always have,” said Sirius spokesman Patrick Reilly, who declined to comment further.

Fox is using the carriage of its TV signal as leverage to negotiate for its new Fox News Talk service. FNC’s TV feed is one of the most popular offerings on satellite radio; Fox News Talk carries the radio shows of its popular TV personalities.

Fox inked a deal with XM Satellite Radio last week to carry Fox News Talk, in addition to the audio from Fox News Channel’s TV feed. At the time, Fox News Radio senior veep Kevin Magee said the deal was non-exclusive and that Sirius would be free to pick up the network as well.

But Magee also noted that Sirius’ deal to carry the Fox News Channel TV signal expires at the end of the year and that it had not yet been renewed.

XM Satellite added Fox News Talk as another channel on its dial, separate from the feed of the TV signal that both XM and Sirius carry.

Fox News Radio’s O’Reilly hosts one of the fastest-growing talkshows on radio, reaching an average of 3.25 million a week, up from 3 million a year ago, according to Talkers Magazine.

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