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News > Companies
Fox News takes on CNN
October 7, 1996: 4:45 p.m. ET

Rupert Murdoch challenges Ted Turner with a 24-hour news channel
From Correspondent Steve Young
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NEW YORK (CNNfn) - Media mogul Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. entered the 24-hour news business Monday, launching the Fox News Channel.
     Fox News is going head to head with Turner Broadcasting System's Cable News Network and MSNBC, the all-news joint venture of Microsoft Corp. and General Electric Co.'s NBC division.
     For Murdoch, Fox News is the culmination of a long-held ambition -- building a U.S-based global television-news network.
     However, the move puts Murdoch in direct competition with his longtime nemesis, TBS chief Ted Turner -- the hands-on media magnate dubbed "Captain Outrageous" by the press.
     Turner has called Murdoch a "shlockmeister," recently comparing him to "the late Fuehrer."
     Murdoch, in turn, has accused Turner and CNN of a liberal bias.
     Fox News will initially reach 17 million U.S. homes, less than a third of CNN's reach.
     In addition to facing CNN, Fox is also up against MSNBC, the news channel launched in July and now available in 22 million U.S. homes.
     But Murdoch remains undaunted by the competition, vowing to offer an alternative to what he claims is the media's liberal slant.
     Nancy Maynard, chair of media studies for the Freedom Forum, believes that it's easier to get an audience by defining one differently than building one. (106K WAV) or (106K AIFF)
     Still, Murdoch faces an uphill battle.
     Time Warner, a cable TV and media conglomerate that will soon merge with TBS, has refused to carry Fox News in the key Manhattan market.
     That means national advertisers based in New York won't see the Fox channel, as Time Warner controls most of the city's cable market.
     Antitrust regulators have required Time Warner to carry a CNN competitor, but the company surprised the industry recently by deciding to cut a deal with MSNBC, not Fox.
     "Murdoch thought he had a deal with Time Warner, then, at the very last minute … Time Warner went the other way, over to MSNBC," said media analyst David Londoner of Schroder Wertheim.
     Londoner believes Murdoch saw the flip-flop as a breach of faith, if not a breach of contract.
     Fox has now enlisted New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani in its fight to be seen in the Big Apple.
     Murdoch is threatening to pull Fox headquarters out of Manhattan if he doesn't get his way.
     So far, Time Warner hasn't backed down.
     But outside of New York, Fox hopes to persuade other cable systems to pick up the new channel by showering operators with $11 a head for each of their cable subscribers.
     Murdoch hopes viewers' hearts and minds will follow.Back to top

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