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34th Week of 2005 / Fox Television Names Roger Ailes as its new Chairman.
News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch on Monday handed control of the company's 35 television stations to Roger Ailes, the executive who in nine years built the Fox News Channel into a politically influential ratings juggernaut. Ailes, 65, replaces the media




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Last week as Murdoch's son resigned News Corp. the comglomerate was looking to buy out a few established Internet firms like, Xingtv.com, Blinkx.com, MySpace.com, Soulfind.com, Webob.com, and WiFi search engines Yes90 and Skype.
By Monday, News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch, handed control of the company's 35 television stations to Roger Ailes, the executive who in nine years built the Fox News Channel into a politically influential ratings juggernaut.
Ailes, 65, replaces the media baron's 33-year-old son, Lachlan Murdoch, who abruptly resigned his management positions within the company last month amid reported tensions with his father. The younger Murdoch, according to some company executives, felt his authority was being undermined in key divisions, including the TV station group, which until recently was a major profit center for the company.
Ailes is one of Murdoch's favorite executives. He defied early skeptics of Fox News Channel by steering the upstart past rival Time Warner Inc.'s CNN to become the cable news ratings leader. During News Corp.'s most recent fiscal quarter, the channel reported a 30% rise in operating income.
"Ailes is well regarded on Wall Street," said Matthew Harrigan, media analyst with Janco Partners Inc. "A lot of people didn't think Fox News Channel would be a success and he confounded the skeptics. Everybody respects what he's done with that channel."
In an interview, Ailes said Murdoch asked him over lunch Monday to take on the additional duties as chairman of Fox Television Stations. Ailes said that Murdoch "didn't really give me any marching orders…. But they probably want me to improve the profits, programming and the news" at Fox-owned stations across the country.
One area top News Corp. executives singled out for improvement was developing better daytime and late-night programming that Fox stations could air in lieu of buying syndicated shows from rivals.
Ailes takes over the stations at a crucial time in the industry as stations grapple with the loss of advertising dollars to Internet companies. News Corp.-owned stations also have been hit by a switch during the last year in the way Nielsen Media Research measures station audiences in the nation's largest markets.
The change, which resulted in lower audience levels for some shows than had previously been tallied, also crimped station ad revenue. Last week, News Corp. said that its quarterly profit at the broadcasting TV unit had slipped 2% compared with the previous year.
"The world is changing," Ailes said. "It's a hard job. The television station business is a tough business."
Ailes' stature has soared within News Corp. since Murdoch tapped him in 1996 to launch his fledgling 24-hour news channel. With the "fair and balanced" slogan, Ailes built a popular, albeit sometimes controversial, operation favored by conservatives and scorned by liberals. Ailes himself has become something of a celebrity.
"He's the company's rock star," said independent political consultant Charlie Cook. "Why wouldn't you give him more turf and territory?"
Before joining Fox, Ailes ran NBC's CNBC business channel. A longtime Republican operative, Ailes also played key roles in advising presidential campaigns for Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush. During Bush's 1988 campaign, Ailes drew fire for his hand in ads that referred to felon Willie Horton that critics said exploited racial tensions. In 1992, he left politics to produce TV shows.
At the Fox stations Ailes is reunited with Jack Abernethy, one of his first hires at Fox News. As chief executive of the station group, Abernethy will run the day-to-day operations.
Ailes, who remains chairman of Fox News, will report to both Murdoch and the mogul's second in command, News Corp. President Peter Chernin. Ailes said he and Chernin talked at length Monday afternoon and planned to meet soon for dinner.
"Roger is the best television executive in the industry today, both in understanding what viewers want and in building successful TV operations," Chernin said in a statement. "He has my unqualified respect, trust and admiration."
News Corp. owns stations in the nation's major markets, including two in Los Angeles, New York and Chicago. In Los Angeles, it owns KTTV-TV Channel 11, the Fox station, and KCOP-TV Channel 13, the UPN affiliate.
Ailes also will be in charge of Twentieth Television, the Los Angeles-based unit that produces and distributes original syndicated programming. In the past, that unit has struggled to come up with successful shows.
Last year, it canceled "On Air with Ryan Seacrest," the company's attempt to parlay his popularity hosting Fox's blockbuster "American Idol" into a daytime talk show.
Ailes also plans to bolster Fox's local news, a key contributor to advertising revenue. But, he said, he is aiming to push ratings, not political agendas.
"This job is not to be editorial in the newsroom," Ailes said. "The main thing is that I like to win. I want Fox News Channel to win, Fox Television stations to win and all of News Corp. to win."
Separately, News Corp. said in a regulatory filing that Chernin was awarded nonvoting shares valued at $7.22 million. Chernin, who signed a new employment agreement last year, received 422,188 shares of News Corp.'s Class A stock, according to the filing.
Roger Ailes
Hometown: Warren, Ohio
Age: 65
Title: Newly named chairman, Fox Television Stations. Retains position of chairman and chief executive, Fox News Channel.
Bio: Credited with building Fox News, which he joined in 1996, into a powerhouse 24-hour news channel. Previously ran CNBC, NBC's business news and talk network. Advised the presidential campaigns of George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon.



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