Fox Business Net Launches Oct. 15

Rupert Murdoch’s financial news network will open its doors for business in mid-October.The name on those doors is now known: Fox Business Network, as first reported by Multichannel News last Wednesday. But much work remains to be done before Oct. 15, before the Fox News Channel spinoff turns its lights on for the public and battles CNBC and Bloomberg TV for their financial news attention.

Situated at News Corp. headquarters in midtown Manhattan, FBN will have a street-level studio and bureaus in Washington, D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and London.

FBN, headed by Roger Ailes, chairman and CEO of Fox News and chairman of Fox Television Stations, has already inked carriage contracts with such distributors as Comcast, Time Warner Cable, DirecTV and Charter Communications, securing commitments to launch to at least 30 million homes.

Through those contracts, FBN will have a presence in many major markets around the country. In New York, the nation’s financial center, it will be available on expanded basic service via Time Warner Cable.

However, it has yet to reach a deal with the New York market’s largest operator, Cablevision Systems. That will leave subscriber gaps in affluent areas in Long Island and Westchester County, N.Y., and along Connecticut’s “Gold Coast.”

FBN continues to negotiate with other carriers, seeking expanded-basic positioning with monthly license fees in the range of 10 to 15 cents per subscriber.

It’s also unclear how far along FBN, which is said to be looking to staff the network with some 300 employees, is relative to its hiring. Ailes aside, FBN’s executive team includes Fox News senior vice president and managing editor of business news Neil Cavuto, who will oversee content and business coverage at the new service, Cavuto reports to Fox News executive vice president Kevin Magee, who is responsible for day-to-day operations at FBN.

Also in the fold: senior vice president of operations Brian Jones; vice president of graphics Ray Lambiase; director of business news Alexis Glick; and senior vice president affiliate sales Tim Carry.

John McCann, vice president of advertising sales for Fox News and a former executive at CNBC, has been approaching clients in the financial community over the past few months. Fox News is expected to name McCann vice president of ad sales at FBN this week.

Fox officials declined to comment about where the fledgling network stands in terms of filling its personnel requirements.

By the same token, the network’s schedule is still shrouded in mystery. While Murdoch said in February at the McGraw-Hill Media Summit in New York that the network would be “more business friendly” than CNBC, Fox News has not tipped its programming hand — even to the extent as to whether Cavuto’s Fox News business shows, the top five in the sector — will be simulcast or encored on the new network.

During the second quarter, CNBC — which is believed to yield about $300 million a year in profits to parent NBC Universal by targeting CEOs, CFOs, CTOs and CMOs — averaged 197,000 viewers in total day, up 11% from second-quarter 2006.

However, several of the network’s evening shows, such as Jim Cramer’s Mad Money (off 39%), On the Money (38%) and Fast Money (57%) sustained double-digit declines against adults 25 to 54, the key news demo, when gauged against the year-earlier time periods.

None of this speaks to the impact of Murdoch’s move to own Dow Jones, parent of The Wall Street Journal, could have on the FBN proceedings.

That $5 billion quest, though, could be hitting a snag, as members of the Bancroft family — Dow Jones’ largest shareholders — are reportedly seeking other bidders.

According to an Associated Press report, News Corp.’s Murdoch expressed some frustration concerning the ongoing negotiations, telling a reporter at the Allen & Co. media conference in Sun Valley, Idaho that the Bancrofts “keep changing their minds.”