News Corp. in Web video bid

Media company logs talks with rivals

News Corp. is forging ahead on talks with a number of congloms to create a video platform that could compete with YouTube.

“We’re in very active negotiations with all of the media companies to create the most robust video offering from professional content on the Web,” Fox Interactive Media topper Peter Levinsohn told investors at the Bear Stearns confab in Palm Beach, Fla.

“Those conversations are ongoing, but they’re going very well,” he added.

But whether that site would amount to a new joint venture — negotiations over which have been seriously on the rocks for months — or for content to be funneled to News Corp.’s MySpace was unclear from the exec’s comments.

Levinsohn was making his first appearance in front of investors since taking over as FIM topper from distant cousin Ross Levinsohn in the fall.

When asked by an interviewer, Peter Levinsohn declined to categorize the effort as a “YouTube killer.”

But he did say the portal was an opportunity for “a number of the media companies to get together.”

And then, perhaps hinting at where such a convocation would happen, he added, “No doubt MySpace will be a huge beneficiary of that.”

News Corp. would reportedly like to see much of the content from other congloms live on its social-networking subsid.

But comments glossed over a big sticking point: Other congloms have been resistant to making video available to MySpace, worrying that it would drive traffic and revenue to a competitor.

Congloms are by no means unanimous on the subject; NBC has reportedly been more willing, while CBS has been more reluctant.

News Corp. would thus likely need to offer favorable deal terms in the form of agreements for a comparatively few number of years and higher revenue sharing, which Google has been less willing to offer.

Viacom recently decided to go its own way on video-sharing after talks with Google broke down, signing a content deal with a YouTube competitor, the Europe-based startup Joost.

MySpace has been a major platform for News Corp.’s video, offering a hefty number of clips and sneak peeks of Fox content.

Levinsohn did say that a major obstacle to pacting with other congloms is ensuring that those in charge of digital operations have the ear of the conglom chiefs.

Digital divisions have gained clout in recent months but still may not have as much sway in the exec suite as they may need.

Levinsohn also rebuffed reports that a $900 million advertising deal between Google and MySpace was in jeopardy because of squabbling over content on YouTube. “The perception that the deal is somehow at risk is inaccurate,” he said. “It’s not on the back of a napkin: It’s a 30-page document.”