I was told about this last Wednesday and decided to see where the talks with the president and CEO of DirecTV went before posting tonight. But indications are the job Carey is negotiating would be structured differently than the one Peter Chernin occupies. For instance, my sources wonder whether Carey would be as integrally involved in Hollywood; if he didn’t move to Los Angeles, then he wouldn’t closely oversee the film and television business like Chernin.
At one time co-chief operating officer with Chernin of News Corp, Carey has remained incredibly close to Rupert Murdoch. Back in the day, Chase not only used to speak for the boss but also carried water for Murdoch on many battlegrounds, from fighting Nielsen’s rating system, to attacking other media conglomerates, to landing DirecTV for News Corp. Carey became president/CEO of DirecTV in 2003 when Murdoch finally acquired 34% controlling interest in the largest U.S. home satellite TV service. But in December 2006, John Malone horsetraded his large stake in News Corp for DirecTV, and Carey stayed on. But he also had to resign as a director on News Corp’s board.
Another reason I held off reporting Carey was in talks with Murdoch was because, for months now, there has been endless speculation that Carey may return to News Corp to replace Chernin who retires as prez/COO at the end of June. Even longtime Wall Street media analyst Jessica Reif Cohen recently suggested in a broker’s note that Carey may return as an “interesting potential solution” to Murdoch’s need for a designated No. 2. Carey himself has been downplaying all the chatter, telling reporters in March that “I’m focused on moving DirecTV forward and enjoying what I’m doing with DirecTV.” But who else at one time has served on News Corp’s board, and at one time shared power with Chernin, and at one time oversaw so many parts of Rupert’s diverse empire? (Carey was also a senior exec at Sky Global Networks, Fox TV, and Fox Inc.) No one else is so ready to backstop Rupert without a steep learning curve.
But Murdoch’s media conglomerate is in a very different place than it was in the late 1990s/early 2000s. Instead of a conquerer, Murdoch now needs a conciliator since cooperation is the name of the game among Big Media. Witness the integral role which Chernin played in the inception and growth of Hulu alongside NBC Universal and now Disney. But News Corp’s Fox TV and film businesses in the U.S. reported to Chernin, and I hear that may not be the case if Carey moves over. Which means still reporting to Rupert directly could be Fox Filmed Entertainment Chairmen Tom Rothman and Jim Gianopulos, who recently got big promotions and now oversee all TV production, with 20th Century Fox Television Chairmen Dana Walden and Gary Newman reporting to them, as well as all film production. Stay tuned.