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As Fox News Channel Enters New Round of Carriage Negotiations, It Sets Its Sights on… ESPN?

Fox News has moved beyond CNN and MSNBC and has its sights set on a new target… ESPN.

Indeed, at the UBS Media and Communications Conference in New York today, News Corp. COO Chase Carey compared Fox News Channel to ESPN on a number of occasions, arguing that it is as much of a “must-carry” as the sports network.

Carey also confirmed that Fox News was entering into a new round of carriage negotiations with some cable operators. The network is believed to be seeking $1.25 per subscriber per month. At the moment it averages $0.58 per subscriber per month, according to SNL Kagan. Kagan tends to be conservative in its carriage estimates, so the most up-to-date numbers are likely higher.

Whether it gets that $1.25 figure remains to be seen, but Carey said that FNC was “as important a channel as exists” and that customers would switch to a different operator if it was not part of the lineup.

“We are starting to come around again on a round of Fox News distribution,” Carey said. “I would say it is right up there with ESPN in terms of being as important a channel that exists out there.”

ESPN is currently the most valuable cable network in the U.S., pulling in over $4 per subscriber per month in fees. The only non-sports network to regularly crack the $1 sub fee line has been TNT, which averages $0.99 per month, though Disney Channel is believed to have some deals worth more than $1 a month as well.

As we have reported before, CNN and HLN are sold as a package, and currently get $0.51 per month according to SNL Kagan, while MSNBC, the newest of the big three, receives $0.16 per month.

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