Fox News, the controversially partial news channel owned by News Corporation, has inked a five year deal with US radio titan Clear Channel Communications.

Up to 172 of Clear Channel's news and talk stations might eventually carry Fox's radio service, which includes hourly news updates each of up to five minutes.

The agreement also includes syndicated talk shows by some of Fox's cable news personalities, including Alan Colmes whose token liberal presence attempts to balance the general neoconservatism of the channel's output.

Although there is no talk (in public, at least) of a closer relationship between the two giants, CC which controls almost three hundred stations - thirty-seven of them in America's top forty markets - is permanently centered in the crosswires of civil liberties groups concerned at the concentration of power into the hands of a few giant media corporations. The Fox-CC axis will fuel their fears.

Claims CC ceo John Hogan: "We don't have a political agenda; what we have is an agenda to get the greatest number of listeners for the longest period of time."

Fox News' chairman/ceo Roger Ailes sang from the same hymn sheet: "The issue is choices and places to get news and information, and this doesn't do anything to hamper that at all. In fact, it adds value." Smacking his lips, he added: "This will expand dramatically our coverage."

However, both parties are tongue-tied as to the number of trailing zeroes attached to the deal. But those close to the compact say CC will pay Fox several million dollars annually for the service.

The broadcaster most likely to feel the freeze from the new partnership is ABC Radio, which currently supplies CC with its news output. And although no-one connected with the deal has confirmed that ABC is up for the chop, CC's Hogan has insinuated exactly that.

But even with the loss of its CC outlets, ABC Radio would still have more than 2,500 stations carrying its content. It will for the foreseeable future remain top dog in the US news-radio business.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff