Fox Chairman Rupert Murdoch says if his post-divestiture company adds more stations, “it will give us greater strength in getting clearances. We will be in a mood to expand and do new things. And we will have the ability.”
Fox Chairman Rupert Murdoch said that “New Fox,” pared down by its deal with Disney to its broadcasting assets and national news and sports networks, is interested in expanding its portfolio of TV stations.
“There will be opportunities,” he said he said on a conference call with securities analysts this morning. “It will depend on the price.”
“Certainly, if we have more [stations],” he said, “it will give us greater strength in getting clearances.”
New Fox will have revenue of $10 billion and free cash flow of least $2 billion, Murdoch said.
“We will start modestly on the dividend side and then we will see from there.
“We will be in a mood to expand and do new things. And we will have the ability. It will be somewhat underleveraged very quickly.”
Fox currently operates 28 stations in 17 markets covering 37% of U.S. TV homes.
Earlier this year, the FCC relaxed its national ownership cap in a way that would allow Fox to increase its household coverage to as much as 66%.
Of the major broadcast networks, Fox has shown the most interest in buying more stations in recent years. At one point, it made an effort to buy the Tribune group, which eventually went to Sinclair.
On the call, Murdoch said that he not concerned that new Fox will have less leverage in dealing with MVDPs for carriage fees because of its smaller portfolio of channels.
“We are in a stronger position, if anything, with [Fox Broadcasting] with the NFL and, particularly Fox News. Fox News is something just no one can afford to crop.”
“[Dish Network’s] Charlie Ergen tried it and lost 150,000 customers,” he said.
Murdoch also said he was unconcerned with losing the Hollywood studio assets, saying there are plenty of places to shop for shows. “Warner Bros. and Sony will be looking to us to buy [their] programs.”
Murdoch dashed speculation that he would merge New Fox with News Corp., which he controls and is the Wall Street Journal and other newspapers. “We haven’t thought about combining with News Corp.,” he said. “If we do it, it’s way, way in the future.”