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Volume 24 No. 155


21st Century Fox Deputy COO James Murdoch said that the company is "confident that the networks business in particular would reach its annual $9 billion operating cash flow target in the next two-plus years," according to Georg Szalai of the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. Murdoch, speaking at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom Conference yesterday in S.F., cited FS1 and "various international channels as providing upside for the company." He added the business has "reasonably good visibility" given carriage deals. Murdoch: "We love the sports business. We will continue to invest in it, but we have to make choices." Murdoch noted for example Fox' UEFA Champions League soccer rights in Italy "have exceeded the value the company is able to pay." But he said FS1 is "in good shape." Murdoch said that a recent deal with the YES Network, which ensures his company an increased stake of 80%, could provide "big growth opportunities" (, 3/5). Murdoch said that the company "will be disciplined in investments in sports property." CABLEFAX DAILY notes he was "referring to the Champions League soccer rights in Italy and the LA Dodgers rights, both of which exceeded the value that Fox was willing to pay." CBS' recent rights win to the Thursday night NFL package "doesn't bother" Murdoch. He said, "I don't think it really changes how we approach those nights and how we program" (CABLEFAX DAILY, 3/6).

In Columbus, Adam Jardy cites sources as saying that the MLS Crew season opener on Saturday "will be on Time Warner Cable SportsChannel, ending a two-year relationship with Fox Sports Ohio." Crew Chair Anthony Precourt said a TV deal was "forthcoming" but did not say when. The Crew are one of five MLS teams "without a local broadcast deal with three days to go before the season." The Crew signed with FS Ohio for the '12 season "in a deal that was completed 17 days before the season" (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 3/6).

SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW: The Univ. of Hawaii said that if Hawaii News Now had "come up with an offer of at least" $2.3M per year for its athletic TV and pay-per-view rights, it "would have been considered for the contract." But in Honolulu, Ferd Lewis notes UH last week announced a six-year extension of Oceanic Time Warner Cable's contract "initially worth at least $2.3 million per year and escalating to $2,539,386 at the agreement's conclusion June 30, 2020." HNN GM Rick Blangiardi said that he "would have ended pay-per-view and shown UH football road games free." KHNL-NBC and KFVE-MYT had been partners with UH until '11, when Oceanic "became the rights holder" (HONOLULU STAR-ADVERTISER, 3/6).

DINOSAUR DISAPPEARING ACT: In Toronto, Doug Smith wrote the Raptors have been treated "shoddily" by their "broadcast partner overlords since before the season began." Smith: "In the last couple of weeks, they have had the start of games mysteriously moved from one network to another because -- get this! -- they had to show a rain delay of a car race and the end of a truly meaningless spring training game." But if "you can switch a basketball game at the last minute, why in the world wouldn’t you leave it where people expect to watch it and move years old car racing highlights during a Daytona rain delay and the final inning or so of a spring baseball game being contested by guys who have little or no chance of being in the big leagues this summer?" (, 3/4).