NEW YORK — In the Ted Turner-Rupert Murdoch feud, it seems as if nobody in New York is above the fray. Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and state Atty. Gen. Dennis Vacco have waded in, and the skirmishing has even spread to the TV listings of Murdoch's New York Post.
The fight between the bosses, respectively, of Turner Broadcasting System Inc. and News Corp. centers on the latter's launch this week of the Fox News Channel, an all-news cable TV rival to Turner's CNN.
Fox News filed a federal lawsuit in New York on Wednesday accusing Turner of conspiring with partner-to-be Time Warner Inc. to shut the fledgling channel out of the Big Apple. Fox says Time Warner reneged on a deal to carry the channel on its cable system, which dominates New York with 1.1 million subscribers.
Time Warner says lots of cable programmers want space on its system and that when it decided to add another news channel, it chose MSNBC, the start-up venture of Microsoft and NBC, instead of Fox News.
In what may or may not be an accident of timing, Time Warner shareholders are meeting in Manhattan today to vote on the company's acquisition of Turner Broadcasting, which would make Turner vice chairman and owner of 11% of Time Warner's stock.
On Monday, when the Fox Channel debuted, the Post made room for the newcomer in its TV listings by dropping CNN.
Ken Chandler, editor of the feisty tabloid, said that "out of fairness to CNN," the Post managed to fit the channel back onto the page Wednesday.
Asked if the paper dropped CNN just to tweak Turner, Chandler said, "If you think that was our intention, it was a pretty feeble tweak."
Giuliani, citing the 1,400 jobs that Fox News brought to the city by locating its news staff here, is pressuring Time Warner to insert the channel into one of the little-used local-access slots on its cable systems. The mayor's office is brandishing the threat of a review by the city's Franchise and Concession Review Committee, which controls cable franchises.
Vacco, meanwhile, has reportedly launched a probe of possible antitrust violations by Time Warner, stemming from its snub of Fox News.
The New York Daily News, the Post's tabloid rival, sided against Fox and Giuliani in an editorial Tuesday. In its news coverage of the spat, it has been careful to keep pointing out that the mayor's wife, Donna Hanover Giuliani, works as a reporter and anchor for New York's WNYW-TV Channel 5, which is owned by Fox.