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Fox to challenge all-news MSNBC

In the wake of MSNBC's all-news debut this week, Fox has announced the launch date for its challenger. Fox News Channel will start at 6 a.m. Oct. 7, broadcasting from a street-level studio at 6th Avenue and 48th Street in New York. The news network plans 17 hours of fresh coverage a day at first, with live updates and, potentially, infomercials overnight.

No anchors or chief reporters have been named.

Fox news chief Roger Ailes insists the News Channel will provide fair and balanced coverage, despite his and his boss Rupert Murdoch's known conservative leanings.

"We have not claimed we're going to be revolutionary," Ailes said. "We will be innovative. And we're going to try to be balanced and work at getting several sides to most stories. We're not going to over-promise. I believe in under-promising and over-delivering."

Ailes confirms he is talking with Rush Limbaugh about joining the start-up channel and is also negotiating with former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo. "If I do one, I'll do the other. There will be no individual point of view left or right."

Fox set up its first regional news bureau this month inside WTVT-Ch. 13, with plans to cover the Southeast from a Tampa base. Although Channel 13 has a well-promoted, contractual partnership with CNN _ especially for its 6:30 p.m. world newscast _ Ailes doesn't worry about changing the station's loyalty, especially since Channel 13 is now owned by Fox.

"When we get really competitive, some choices will have to be made," he said, smiling. It's the same logic he thinks will prevail in persuading _ read: forcing _ affiliates such as Channel 13 to pick up Fox News Sunday: "I just think they've taken a sudden interest in our program."

_ MONICA YANT

DJ to host TNN's "Prime Time Country'

WQYK-FM 99.5 operations manager and morning show host Tom Rivers heads for Nashville next week for a five-day stint as host of TNN's popular country music variety show Prime Time Country.

The show, which airs locally from 9 to 10:30 p.m., has been without a permanent host since the firing of Tom Wopat in April. Rivers guest-anchored the program one night in June, and he is a finalist for the full-time slot, said the show's producer, Rac Clark, son of executive producer Dick Clark.

"Tom is a great interviewer," Clark said. "He's very knowledgeable about country music, and he's comfortable with his guests. Being able to do that in front of a camera every night is certainly something we look for."

Scheduled guests for next week's Prime Time Country broadcasts are among some of country music's top stars, including Vince Gill, Tim McGraw, Suzy Bogguss and Lee Roy Parnell and Michelle Wright.

Rivers, 30, who has been with WQYK since the mid-1980s, also does commentary for TNN Motorsports and hosts syndicated specials for the Westwood One radio network.

_ LOGAN NEILL

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