Chernin sees Fox best positioned to weather strike



Asked about the WGA strike in yesterday’s quarterly conference call, News Corporation COO Peter Chernin said he had no idea how long the strike will go on, but insisted that unless it is really long it will be financially positive for the company. Not that he enjoys the strike. "It’s particularly frustrating because by all accounts there was a pretty constructive day of negotiations on Sunday and yet the writers still chose to go out on strike that evening," Chernin said, adding that it seems like there is an agreement which can be reached, but he doesn’t know how long it will take to get there.

"As for how it will impact us, my guess is that during fiscal ’08 [through next June] a strike is probably a positive for the company. We save more money in term deals and story costs, and probably the lack of making pilots, than we lose in potential advertising. The other thing is we believe that it would cause a significant growth in market share on the Fox Broadcasting Network. We think the Fox Broadcasting Network – this is something we’ve been working on for a long time – is better positioned for a strike than any of our colleagues. We’ve got ‘American Idol’ coming. We’ve got a wider array of reality programming. Most of our animated shows are generally about a year ahead. Those would be originals. So we would be in original programming virtually every night of the week for the remainder of this broadcast season in the event of a strike, so we would expect that, if anything, it would lift our market share and have us win this season by an even greater margin than we expect to," Chernin told analysts. "A longer strike – you know, a strike longer than eight months or a year – would obviously begin to affect all parts of the business, but I sure hope it doesn’t go that long," he added.