News Corp.'s Murdoch Says Business Channel Closer

In a magazine interview, News Corp. (NWS) founder, chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch said the media conglomerate is getting closer to launching a cable business news channel.

In the Newsweek interview, Murdoch said the company was making "quite considerable progress" on a longstanding plan to compete with CNBC. The channel, which has been under consideration for a few years, should launch by the end of the year, Murdoch said.

After spending more than $1.5 billion on Internet ventures in the last year, Murdoch said he is on the verge of announcing plans to offer broadband through his satellite-television service DirecTV. That project, along with News Corp.'s current Internet holdings, will bring in "a conservative $1 billion" in revenue by 2010, he predicted.

Murdoch also responded to concerns that young members of MySpace.com, one of his recent acquisitions, are being targeted by sexual predators. A third of the company's staff monitors the site to keep it clean, he said.

"We're being very proactive," he said. "We plan to reach out further to school principals, church groups and community organizations to educate them on the safety measures we've developed."

The site soon will allow visitors to exchange and post video, he said.

Murdoch also came to the defense of Time Warner Inc. (TW) in the interview, criticizing financier Carl Icahn's efforts to break up the media conglomerate.

In the Newsweek interview for its Feb. 13 issue, Murdoch said Time Warner was a "very well run" company, contrary to Icahn's assessment.

Murdoch said Viacom Inc., another major media conglomerate, has so far achieved "little or nothing" for its shareholders with its own decision to break up into two entities the beginning of this year.

"I don't know what Icahn thinks he's doing," Murdoch told Newsweek. "Icahn has gone out on a limb. Even if he succeeds in getting it broken up — and that would be very sad — I don't think he'd make money out of it."

Icahn, who has made a career as well as a multibillion dollar fortune out of taking on big companies, is pressing Time Warner to make major changes in hopes of boosting its long-lagging share price.

Icahn wants, among other things, a complete spinoff of Time Warner's cable TV division and a larger share repurchase program, all the while criticizing Time Warner's management decisions. Time Warner has stood by its track record.

News Corp. is the parent company of FOX News Channel and FOXNews.com.