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DirecTV holds on to Carey

Veteran CEO signs three year deal

News Corp. veteran Chase Carey has inked a new three-year deal to stay at the helm of satcaster DirecTV.

Deal announced Thursday means that DirecTV will remain in the hands of a longtime Rupert Murdoch lieutenant even after Liberty Media completes its acquisition of a controlling stake in the satcaster from News Corp. by the end of this year, once the Federal Communications Commission signs off on the deal. Carey’s new pact runs through the end of 2010.

News Corp. chief Murdoch and Liberty chairman John Malone ended a tense game of high-stakes corporate poker late last year when Liberty agreed to swap its 16.3% interest in News Corp. in exchange for News’ 38.4% stake in DirecTV parent Hughes Electronics, three regional sports cablers and $588 million in cash. Prior to that agreement, there had been much speculation that Malone was seeking to acquire more News Corp. shares and planned to challenge Murdoch for control of the media giant.

In a Thursday statement, Murdoch cited his 20-year working relationship with Carey and how much respect and admiration he has for the exec “both as a business leader and personally.” Malone praised Carey’s role in steering DirecTV since late 2003 “in an increasingly challenging environment and (enabling) it to build on its leadership position in the business.”

Carey took the reins of DirecTV in December 2003, eight months after News Corp. acquired its controlling stake in Hughes Electronics. News Corp. had pursued the DirecTV acquisition for years in an effort to add a U.S. link to its vast global sat-TV network. Murdoch’s decision to part with DirecTV caught observers by surprise last year, but insiders said it was driven by his desire to settle the Liberty standoff and his disenchantment with the domestic growth prospects for the bird biz.

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