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Carey Says He’s Near Deal to Stay at 21st Century

Chase Carey, president and COO of 21st Century Fox, says he has an “understanding” with CEO Rupert Murdoch about a new agreement that will keep him with the media company.

In March, James Murdoch was promoted to co-chief operating officer of 21st Century Fox, leading to questions about the future of Carey, who analysts credit with helping to keep the company running reliably. Carey’s employment contract runs through the end of June

During 21st Century Fox’s earnings call, analyst Michael Nathanson of MoffettNathanson Research, asked Carey whether or not he was leaving.  

“Rupert and I have an understanding in a new agreement,” Carey replied. “We have simply not gotten it on paper yet and the reason is focus on building the business, but we have a clear understanding of where we are going.”

During the conference call, Carey also addressed 21st Century’s longer term financial goal of growing earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization to $9 billion in fiscal 2015.

“To achieve that 2016 target, we will have to overcome foreign currency headwinds and challenges at [Fox Broadcasting] that we did not plan for last August,” Carey said. “Together, all these items adversely impacts our August assumptions by north of $200 million, however, we'll have to work a bit harder, but we expect to hit our target.”

In the shorter term, investment in launching new cable networks, including Fox Sports 1 and FXX also impacted earnings, but Carey said: “The momentum we're seeing makes us confident that the investments we've made will build long-term value for shareholders and consumers alike.”

He said Fox’s sports performance was strong but its entertainment programming “remains disappointing.” Ratings are down this season, driven by continued declines for one-time juggernaut American Idol, which was nonetheless renewed for another season.

Fox has moved away from the traditional programming development schedule and has upped its investment in new shows.

“The key moving forward is to ramp up our commitment to bringing viewers, standout must have programming, shows that are unexpected and that have the power to really break through,” Carey said. “In a world with infinite choice, the need for breakthrough programming has never been greater. We're also being more opportunistic about what we bring here, looking to create big event shows like 24: Live Another Day.”

Fox will unveil its 2014-15 prime time schedule to advertisers at its upfront presentation Monday.

“Generally we anticipate the upfront market will be similar to last year,” Carey said. “We continue to believe that Fox is a network that truly stands out. It's useful, unique and edgy and has a proven history of surprising audiences through shows that redefine the TV viewing experience.”

Carey also Fox will try to capture more DVR viewing by pushing for commercial ratings that in include seven days of delayed viewing, compared to the current three days.

“The industry push towards C7 ratings continues to be a priority. We believe more deals against the C7 ratings currency will prove lucrative,” he said.

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.