AILES SETS OUT TO LEAD FOX INTO NEWS BUSINESS:EX-GOP ADVISER SAYS NOT TO EXPECT SAME OLD THING FROM NEW CABLE CHANNEL

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Skeptics be still. That's the word from Roger Ailes, chairman of Fox News and the person who will get Rupert Murdoch in the 24-hour cable news business.

The words Fox and news have hardly been synonymous. Mr. Murdoch's Fox Broadcasting Co. has struggled to convince its affiliated stations to run newscasts, though Mr. Murdoch himself has urged them to time and again.

QUELLING DOUBTS

So when the media mogul announced in January that he would start an all-news cable channel, after both NBC and ABC had already made similar announce-ments, industry skeptics had a field day.

The doubters were quieted earlier this month when Mr. Murdoch came through with a mega-deal engineered with Tele-Communications Inc., to deliver the Fox news channel to at least 10 million subscribers.

Or, as Mr. Ailes said, "it gets us in the window. It means we'll have a big launch." Mr. Ailes said he'll produce a news channel that will be noticeably different than CNN or MSNBC or the traditional network nightly newscasts.

"If you look at most news, it seems as if they've all hired the same assignment editor," Mr. Ailes said. "I don't think we'll be hiring him."

NO BIASES

Mr. Ailes is very careful, however, to emphasize that the new channel won't have any particular bias. (He's probably best known for being the media adviser to Ronald Reagan and George Bush during their presidential campaigns.)

"What I can tell you," Mr. Ailes said, "is that we'll be viewer friendly, and that's in contrast to the biased, boring and negative stories you see on most news."

HANDS ON MANAGEMENT

His personal style also conflicts with the many media managers who hire executives to run various divisions and then basically leave them alone.

Mr. Ailes, 56, has a reputation as a very hands on manager. In his former position, as president of both CNBC and America's Talking, Mr. Ailes not only came up with the idea for various programs, but was very involved in advertising sales.

He has been a consultant on Madison Avenue, and "I feel very strongly that I need to be hands on on the revenue side of the business. I will keep an open dialogue with our cable operator affiliates."

He is also quick to praise Paul Rittenberg, VP-sales for Fox News. Mr. Rittenberg was also in charge of ad sales for Mr. Ailes at CNBC.

Most news programming draws viewers in the age group "somewhere between 55 and death," he noted. "The Fox brand name draws younger viewers, so that will give us an advantage with advertisers right there," he added, since most advertisers target the 25-54 demographic.

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