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Murdoch expects best from FBN

Rupe: Network will be tops even sans WSJ

Since the day News Corp.’s $5 billion bid for Dow Jones was made public — by CNBC — the upcoming launch of Fox’s new business channel has been touted as the top strategic rationale for the deal.

But in his first public comments since the deal was approved by Dow Jones’ Bancroft family, Murdoch said he expects Fox Business Network to beat CNBC with or without an association with the Wall Street Journal.

CNBC parent GE has an exclusive content deal with Dow Jones that runs through 2012, and while Murdoch called that deal an “obstacle,” he told reporters that no talks are under way to buy GE out of it. “No, we’re not negotiating,” he said bluntly.

He said the deal is “all-encompassing as far as the brand is concerned,” including business news and access to Wall Street Journal reporters, but part of his strategy for the Journal is to expand its general news output to take on the New York Times and expand in Europe and Asia. “There are other ways we can associate ourselves with the brand,” he said.

News Corp. will spend $150 million-$200 million launching the channel, and Murdoch said that if CNBC has a valuation of $4 billion, as some analysts claim, he expects FBN to “exceed that just as Fox News has exceeded CNN.”

Meanwhile, FBN doesn’t launch until Oct. 15, but it’s as if the biz news booking wars have already begun.

On Wednesday Fox biz news senior veep Neil Cavuto — who will become the face of the new channel — landed President Bush to talk about the home mortgage crisis. CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo had to settle for Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.

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