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A new contract for Roger Ailes…

images-2.jpegNews Corp. (NWS) is clearly juggling a lot of balls right now. The biggest of course is the $5 billion offer for Dow Jones (DJ), the questions and now charges over insider trading in advance of the potential deal, former Dow Jones executives and current WSJ reporters who are publicly opposed to the deal, and then yesterday, there were first quarter earnings.

Which makes it the perfect time to bury a new employment contract for News Corp. CEO Roger Ailes in the Q the company filed yesterday. The biggest difference between this contract and the one that Ailes signed back in Aug. 2005, seems to be a change in the date for Ailes to qualify for a hefty bonus related to the launch of the Fox Business Channel. The old contract promised Ailes 333,333 shares of News Corp. stock provided that the channel was launched by Dec. 31, 2006 and was available to 30 million subscribers. But since that date came and went without the channel, there’s now a new contract that changes the date to Dec. 31, 2007. There’s also a slight change in what it takes for Ailes to qualify for a “special bonus” (as opposed to a regular ordinary bonus). The old agreement spelled out specific EBITDA targets. But the new contract replaces the chart with language like this: “If the EBITDA of the News Channel for any fiscal year during the Term of Employment is not less than the High End EBITDA, then Executive shall be entitled to receive a Special Bonus equal to the High End Special Bonus for such fiscal year.”

News Corp. investors can only hope that some lawyer wasn’t billing $500 an hour for these modest changes. And speaking of the need to bury stuff (and lawyers) where is the severance agreement for Judith Regan? Even though it’s been five months since Regan was canned, the agreement still hasn’t turned up in News Corp. filings.