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Fox Net Ready To Get Wet With New Satellite Service

Fox Broadcasting has set a June 6 launch date for Fox Net and says it will charge small cable operators just $100 a year for the weblet’s new satellite-delivered programming service.

Historic agreement

Fox has been gearing for startup of the 18-hour-a-day service since reaching an historic broadcast-cable agreement last year with Tele-Communications Inc., the nation’s largest cable operator. Under that deal, TCI carries Fox Net programming on its cable systems where there are no Fox affils (commonly referred to as “white areas”), and has agreed to place Fox’ signal on a VHF “network row” channel.

Since that deal, Fox has been lining up smaller MSO’s to carry its programming on the V-band in white areas. In the Fox Net fold are Cox Cable, Vision Cable, Northland Communications Group and Reeds Cable.

Flat fee

Fox has enticed mom and pop cable outfits by offering Fox Net for a flat annual fee of $100 to systems with less than 1,000 subscribers.

Fox Net programming includes Fox primetime, the daily Fox kidvid and Fox syndicated shows.

Plans for the launch were unveiled in Washington, D.C., by Fox senior v.p. Preston Padden, who was joined by Fox v.p. of cable affils Bill Schereck and Steve Effros, head of the Community Antenna Tv Assn. (CATA), the D.C. trade group repping small cable operators.

Padden predicted Fox Net will have more than one million cable subscribers when the service begins next month. Padden, a former prez of the Assn. of Independent Tv Stations (INTV), said six months of private negotiations with cable operators for carriage of Fox programming “yielded more results than five years of lobbying” lawmakers for passage of must-carry legislation.

Problem solver

CATA’s Effros had high praise for Fox’ reliance on marketplace negotiations to solve its problems. He said broadcasters should take a cue from the web by seeking compromise rather than relief from Congress. The two industries “can find mutual points of agreement” and turn it into a “win-win situation,” per Effros.

Schereck said he hopes to add 1.5 million cable subscribers to Fox Net within 12 months.

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