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Retrans rows to continue in new year, Carey says

Fox has more deals coming up in 2011

After a contentious year of News Corp. battling for retransmission consent fees from distributors for its Fox stations, News Corp. prexy Chase Carey said Wednesday that he expects there to be “some degree of noise” in the new year as the company negotiates other deals.

During a Q&A session Wednesday at the annual UBS media conference in New York, Carey said the broadcast industry was “remiss in not dealing with (retrans fees) earlier. We needed to tackle it.” He added that he was satisfied with what he received from distributors in the past year, declining to elaborate on fees. “I still think we deserved a multiple of what we received,” he said.Moderator and UBS investment banker Aryeh Bourkoff reminded Carey that Fox has the rights to the Super Bowl telecast in February. “We will be able to watch that game?,” he asked.

“Hopefully, you will enjoy a game second to none,” Carey replied.

In October, during retrans talks and an ensuing two-week blackout of Fox on Cablevision systems, subscribers were unable to watch Fox’s coverage of the first two games of the World Series.

Carey declined to disclose what distribution deals were coming due in 2011.

The new dual revenue stream will put the Fox network, through fees from its stations and revenue-sharing deals with the network’s affils, in a much different place, said Carey, who called the new revenue streams a “new healthy foundation” for investing in programming.

On News Corp.’s underperforming share price, Carey said where the stock trades is “absurd” and he believes Wall Street overly identifies the company as a print publisher and advertising dependent. Half of News Corp.’s revenues now come from TV.

As for News Corp.’s recent push into education — the company’s hiring of New York City schools chancellor Joel Klein to oversee its efforts in this arena and $360 million acquisition of education company Wireless Networks — Carey said education reps a big opportunity for the company. Education “is stuck in practices from 40 years ago,” he said. News Corp. will not become a textbook publisher or run its own schools but rather will be “laser-like in creating tools and technologies” to help educators and students. Education “is really ripe for destructive technology.”

When asked about the ailing MySpace unit, Carey said the site has been relaunched for “social entertainment” and that decisions about the fate of the business at News Corp. will be in the “short term.”

On the much-talked-about newspaper the Daily that’s being developed for the iPad, Carey declined to say when it would launch but said it is “an attractive economic model … we will use our expertise, which is creating great content in news, and our talent.” In the digital realm, these are “small bets,” he added. News Corp. is reportedly investing $30 million in the Daily.

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