This is a partial transcript from The Big Story, April 9, 2003, that was edited for clarity. Click here for complete access to all of Neil Cavuto's CEO interviews.
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NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: On a day we had big war news, very big corporate news today. You're looking at Rupert Murdoch, not only our boss, of course, the chairman and chief executive of News Corporation, but the guy behind orchestrating one of the most long-sought prizes, probably, in corporate history. That has to be the better than, what, three-year struggle to control DirecTV. GMU Electronics that control today to Mr. Murdoch and he joins me right now. Congratulations.
RUPERT MURDOCH, CHMN., CEO NEWS CORP. (NWS): Thank you, very much, Neil.
CAVUTO: You've got your global satellite platform.
MURDOCH: Yes, we're thrilled. And we plan to bring a lot of competition for the views and a better viewing experience and better opportunities for FOX, too.
CAVUTO: Now, we should stress that at roughly $6.5- 6.8 billion, this is a fraction of what you would have been paying had you not lost out to Echo Star a little over a year ago.
MURDOCH: Well, it's less, but it's not a small fraction. It's still a lot of money.
CAVUTO: Yes, but you waited patiently and saw a lot of potential competitors sort of die off on the vine, SBC Communications, Cablevision.
MURDOCH: A lot of people came and kicked the tires and we were confident because of our experience in other parts of the world that we could do the job. So we just hung in there and we're very happy to get it.
I think General Motors treated us very well. They were completely open and acted with great integrity. Finally, their board met this afternoon and they called me a few minutes ago.
CAVUTO: They were dragging into this, kicking and screaming. They didn't want you in the beginning. What won them over?
MURDOCH: No, no. We were going get it the first time until someone offered a lot more.
CAVUTO: Charlie Ergen.
MURDOCH: Charlie Ergen. And of course that fell up the regulatory hills, which we very much hope we will not.
CAVUTO: What makes you think you will not?
MURDOCH: Well we don't have the same issues. This is not creating a monopoly of on sort oat all. This, in fact, is creating an underlining competition both with other satellite providers and with cable.
CAVUTO: Your critics and some consumer groups fear you're going to use this to push a conservative agenda. Are you?
MURDOCH: Well the one thing we're going to do with this is have completely open access to everybody. There'll be nothing on this which will be exclusively provided by Fox or any news corporation entity. Everybody, all programs are welcome on the same price as they pay or get paid anywhere else.
CAVUTO: Why did you want this so badly for so many years?
MURDOCH: Well, I've always felt for years that if you're in the content creation business, you must be somewhere in the distribution business to make sure you're not wasting your efforts and your money.
CAVUTO: So this is something you felt had to do to complete an empire or was it something that was missing in your empire?
MURDOCH: Something that was missing. And this completes it. I mean we'll always be opportunistic and if someone walks in the door with something wonderful, but we don't see anything on the horizon. This will keep us consumed for many years.
CAVUTO: So there's no outside bidder who can sort of ruin the party for you right now?
MURDOCH: Well, they've had plenty of time to put their hand up in the last three years and they haven't done so.
CAVUTO: Why did the SBCs and the Cablevisions and these others fall by the wayside, do you think, after kicking the tires for whatever reason?
MURDOCH: Well, I think in the case of SBC, Wall Street thought it might be like AT&T buying cable or something. That they had other priorities which they decided they should attend to first.
And the case of Cablevision, that would have been cross ownership with cable and I think very difficult from a regulatory point of view. And there were a number of constraints on them.
CAVUTO: What do you do with this?
MURDOCH: We develop it. We want more viewers. We want to make it better, enhanced viewing experience. We'll have interactivity, we'll have provision of broadband, provision of high definition. There's a lot to do.
CAVUTO: Would you create new channels?
MURDOCH: Yes, but if we create channels, it'll be available not just to those but also to the whole...
CAVUTO: So you wouldn't do just something exclusively on a satellite platform?
MURDOCH: Not at all, no.
CAVUTO: You wouldn't be interest in that?
MURDOCH: No. Though I think it would be against the rules that apply to cable, certainly, and we would respect those rules when it comes to satellite. I mean we would buy thins exclusively from other people. Direct already buys NFL ticket for football.
CAVUTO: And that kind of stuff wouldn't change?
CAVUTO: OK. The advertising landscape, before I throw it back to my friend John Gibson, how does that look to you right now?
MURDOCH: In our case, it looks very good. I'm not that all that bullish about the economy in the short term, yet advertising is really wonderful, both with our network and on FOX News. It's holding up very well.
CAVUTO: So the fact that we don't see it in a lot of media stocks, you think it's a matter of time before we will?
MURDOCH: What? See it go down? No. I think things will turn around.
The biggest thing that's happening at the moment is the plummeting price of oil. And that's better than any tax cut at all for every family in America. And we'll get the consumers going again. I think today was a wonderful day in the war. We'll get the war behind us.
CAVUTO: You know the Wall Street argument, Mr. Murdoch, has been if the war goes well, basically we're off to the races again because we've got wild card out of the way. The market was down 100 points today. Maybe some fear that the economy isn't so hot. Where do you stand?
MURDOCH: Oh, no. I think the economy, particularly the industrial economy, is having a very hard time. We're coming out of a bubble in which everybody over-invested in high technology. They're getting great productivity, but not they're employing extra people.
So we're in a lull when it comes to employment. And that, of course, in the end, frightens consumers. But I think we'll come through this now over the next few months.
CAVUTO: And concluding the war, apparently concluding the war is a step in that direction?
MURDOCH: Oh, absolutely, yes.
CAVUTO: All right. Mr. Murdoch, again, congratulations. Patience triumphs again, huh?
MURDOCH: Thank you very much.
CAVUTO: All right. Rupert Murdoch, the chairman and chief executive of News Corporation.
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