New channel to launch on Oct. 15

NEW YORK — Fox News Channel’s long-planned business net spinoff has an official name and a launch date.

New web will be called Fox Business Network, or FBN, and launch Oct. 15, announced Neil Cavuto, managing editor of business news.

News Corp. is proceeding with plans for the business network, an extension of its successful and profitable Fox News franchise, without regard to the status of chairman Rupert Murdoch’s bid for Dow Jones. Sale appears close but could drag out for a few more weeks.

The use of the Wall Street Journal brand in conjunction with the nascent business channel is one of the major synergies touted in News Corp.’s $5 billion bid for Dow Jones.

News Corp. sources indicated that if Murdoch’s bid for Dow Jones is successful, the Fox Business Network branding could change.

As of Wednesday, the Dow Jones board was entertaining a competing proposal from supermarket magnate Ron Burkle and MySpace.com founder Brad Greenspan, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Fox News is on a tight timetable to launch Fox Business Network due to cable agreements it signed mandating an October launch. As it stands, FBN will launch with distribution of 30 million subscribers, including carriage on Time Warner Cable’s expanded basic tier in New York City.

It will compete against NBC Universal’s CNBC, with distribution in 92 million homes, and Bloomberg TV, which has distribution of 49 million and airs a three-hour block on E! Entertainment Television in the mornings.

CNBC averaged 197,000 viewers in the second quarter, up 11% from the previous year, but since Nielsen has not yet implemented a system to measure workplace viewing, that viewership number represents only a fraction of the network’s total audience.

Even with its small Nielsen audience, CNBC is hugely profitable, raking in an estimated $300 million in profit last year, a slice of business for which it has had little competition since Time Warner shuttered CNNfn in 2004.

“CNBC never underestimates any competition and remains focused on being first in business news,” spokesman Kevin Goldman said.

FBN will have street-level studios at News Corp. headquarters in midtown and will open news bureaus in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., as well as London.

Cavuto will oversee editorial content for the network and appear as an on-air host. He reports to Fox News exec VP Kevin Magee, responsible for day-to-day operations, and chairman-CEO Roger Ailes.

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