FOX on Conan O'Brien: Only if it's profitable

conan-obrien-out-320.jpgConan O'Brien could very well end up on FOX by the fall -- provided the network can show its corporate bosses that a late-night show would make money.

So sayeth Rupert Murdoch, chairman and CEO of FOX parent News Corp. On a conference call discussing the company's financial results Wednesday (Feb. 3), Murdoch said the network is giving a late-night show "a lot of thought and examination."

"[C]ertainly if the program people can show us that we could do it, and be fairly confident of making a profit on it, we'd do it in a flash," Murdoch said.

The "if" there is a pretty sizable one, though. FOX affiliates run syndicated shows after their late local newscasts, and those tend to be moneymakers for the stations. They would have to sign off on any late-night franchise, about which Murdoch said, "I'm sure we'll have some difficult negotiations, but I'm speculating. We'll have to wait and see."

At any rate, a deal between FOX and the former "Tonight Show" host is a ways off. "I'm sure there have been some conversations [with O'Brien]," Chase Carey, News Corp.'s president and COO, said on the call, "but if you mean real negotiation, no."

O'Brien's departure from NBC stipulated that he couldn't host a show anywhere else until September.

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Photo credit: NBC