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Online, Beck Will Impose a Fee Model

Glenn Beck is planning to charge his fans a monthly subscription for his daily talk show online starting this summer, as he makes the move from being a Fox News host to the owner of his own Internet network.

Glenn Beck
AP
Glenn Beck

On Tuesday, Mr. Beck will announce a first-of-its-kind effort to take a popular — but also fiercely polarizing — television show and turn it into its own subscription enterprise. It is an adaptation of the business models of both HBO and Netflix for one man’s personal brand — and a huge risk, as he and his staff members acknowledged in interviews in recent days.

“I think we might be a little early,” Mr. Beck said of his plan for the Internet network, called GBTV, which will cost $5 to $10. “But I’d rather be ahead of the pack than part of it.”

The business decision by Mr. Beck’s company, Mercury Radio Arts, hinges on an expectation that more and more people will figure out how to view online shows on their TV sets through set-top boxes and video game consoles — and that they will subscribe directly to their favorite brands.

Eventually, Mr. Beck said, his goal is to have an array of scripted and unscripted shows alongside his own daily show, which will simply be titled “Glenn Beck” and will run for two hours on weekday afternoons.

“If you’re a fan of Jon Stewart, you’re going to find something on GBTV that you’re going to enjoy,” Mr. Beck said. “If you’re a fan of ‘24,’ you’re going to find something on GBTV that you’re going to enjoy.”

What GBTV will not be, he and his associates emphasized, is a news channel.

Mr. Beck is leaving the Fox News Channel, a unit of the News Corporation , on June 30 after two and a half years of regular clashes with management. One Fox executive, Joel Cheatwood, is moving with him to GBTV; Mr. Cheatwood, who started at Mercury in April, will be the Internet network’s president for programming.

Mr. Cheatwood said he was attracted by the chance to pioneer “a different platform of media.” The Web, he said, “really is where the growth exists.”

GBTV will be accessible starting Tuesday when Mr. Beck talks about it on his three-hour radio show (which he will keep doing). One of its first features will be a behind-the-scenes show about the making of the network, somewhat akin to the behind-the-scenes show on Oprah Winfrey’s cable channel about the final season of her syndicated talk show.

Then, on Sept. 12, “Glenn Beck” will begin. The two-hour show will be scheduled for 5 p.m. Eastern time, the same time as Mr. Beck’s current show on Fox, putting him in direct competition with whoever replaces him at the cable news channel. But because it will stream only over the Internet, and not be shown on television, it is not a violation of his exit agreement with Fox. And Mr. Beck’s representatives note that the show will be available on-demand on the Internet, further reducing the competitive element.

The on-demand nature of an Internet network was one of the appeals to Mr. Beck and the president of Mercury, Chris Balfe.

Also appealing, Mr. Balfe said, was not having to worry about whether the shows that lead into and out of Mr. Beck’s show have “exactly the same sort of tone.” (That was perceived to be a problem at Fox, since Mr. Beck’s conservative sermons and speeches at 5 p.m. were followed by a straightforward political newscast at 6 p.m.)

The lead-in and lead-outs do not matter, Mr. Balfe said, because “we’re not trying to keep viewers, we’re trying to please subscribers.”

Mr. Beck pointed out another potential advantage: “It’s my network, so if I want the show to run 2 hours and 15 minutes one night, it will.”

Fox has declined to comment about what program or host will replace Mr. Beck in the 5 p.m. time slot.