Murdoch plans global TV news operation

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The Independent Online
Rupert Murdoch, the chairman of News Corporation, formally joined the race to take on Ted Turner's CNN network by vowing to launch his own global all-news television channel before the end of this year.

Announcing the project in New York, Mr Murdoch said he intended spending between $80m and $100m this year to give birth to the service, which he plans to distribute by any means possible, whether by traditional broadcast means, on cable or via satellite.

The new service is to be headed by Roger Ailes, a veteran adviser to both recent Republican presidents, Ronald Reagan and George Bush. Until recently he was running CNBC, the US cable service operated by NBC which carries business news during the day and talk shows in the evening.

But Mr Murdoch will not be alone in seeking to displace CNN from its current monopoly in providing 24-hour television news. In recent weeks, both ABC and NBC in the US announced similar plans to launch cable news channels. NBC will be doing so in collaboration with Microsoft, the software giant.

Mr Murdoch indicated that his service will be made available in markets around the globe, including in Europe, Latin American and Asia. To begin with, programming will be crafted for worldwide audiences. As it develops, however, the service will begin to offer local perspectives to specific audiences. "I'm a believer that all news is local news," he said. If you are looking for mass audiences, you have to repackage ... it has to come slowly".

Though Mr Murdoch said the service will draw on the news operations of his Fox Television network in the US, in reality the Fox stations have only rudimentary news-gathering capabilities that are vastly inferior to those of NBC and ABC. Nor will it be easy for Mr Murdoch to negotiate access to airwaves and cable distribution systems in the US, which are already largely saturated.

Mr Ailes is likely to be regarded as a shrewd choice. For NBC he piloted CNBC into profit and created another all-talk channel, America's Talking. Shortly before his resignation earlier this month, NBC announced that it would shelve America's Talking to make way for its own all-news channel.

For Mr Murdoch, the decision signals a change in priorities. towards expanding his empire. Over recent months he had been seen as a possible predator in the rash of US media mergers.