Murdoch: DirecTV Talk Progressing Slowly

NEW YORK — News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch said Tuesday that talks with satellite-TV operator DirecTV are “moving ahead slowly,” but he declined to comment further because of securities-disclosure restrictions.

He said the ongoing merger negotiations “may or may not be successful.” As previously reported, News Corp. (NWS) is in talks about merging its Sky Global Networks with Hughes Electronics Corp. (GMH), owner of DirecTV. Hughes itse lf is a unit of General Motors Corp. (GM).

Mr. Murdoch also said the U.S. satellite-TV market has a lot of room for growth. “There is the potential for the doubling” of the number of people subscribing to satellite television to 30 million, he said, spe aking at an entertainment conference sponsored by the trade newspaper Variety.

He said the two big satellite players — EchoStar Communications Corp. (DISH) and DirecTV — “can do a lot more interesting things,” including high-definition television and e-mail.

Mr. Murdoch also said the U.S. is undergoing “a bit of a recession,” reflected in weaker performance at News Corp.’s television-station business in January. But he added that he expects things to improve quickly, noting that car advertisers wo uld likely increase their TV spending “in the next quarter.”

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