News Corp. Squelches Rumors of YouTube Acquisition

Riding 19% Rise in Profit, Company Will Invest in Web Properties It Already Owns

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- News Corp. dashed rumors of a possible YouTube acquisition during an earnings call yesterday. The company will invest in web properties it already owns "rather than make big acquisitions," said Chief Operating Officer Peter Chernin.
News Corp. Chairman-CEO Rupert Murdoch has spent more than $1.2 billion on internet companies over the past year.
News Corp. Chairman-CEO Rupert Murdoch has spent more than $1.2 billion on internet companies over the past year. Credit: AP

"Longer term, we're intently focused on developing ways not only to monetize our acquired internet assets but also on how to exploit our vast content libraries as broadband access proliferates," Chairman-CEO Rupert Murdoch said in a statement. Mr. Murdoch has spent more than $1.2 billion on internet companies over the past year, including $580 million for MySpace.

News Corp. on reported a 19% rise in quarterly net profit. Strong ad sales at Fox News Channel and the success of movies such as "Ice Age: The Meltdown" were largely responsible for the sharp rise.

Quarterly profit $852M
The media conglomerate posted a fiscal fourth-quarter profit of $852 million, or 27 cents per share, up from $717 million, or 22 cents per share, in the same period a year earlier. Quarterly profit was also strengthened by a $134 million gain from selling European radio businesses. Revenue rose 11% to $6.8 billion.

Yesterday's earnings call -- which came a day after News Corp. announced its $900 million search partnership with Google -- did not break out the company's online revenues, but Mr. Murdoch said the $500 million yearly revenue target he previously set for Fox Interactive Media will be "easy to reach."

During the earnings call, Mr. Chernin added: "I think the $900 million as we said earlier is a minimum guarantee. We would hope and expect -- and I think Eric Schmidt said the same thing yesterday -- we will actually deliver a greater amount of profitability since the bulk of the ads come to us."

No. 1 in 18-to-49 demo
The Fox broadcast network was No. 1 for the second time among advertiser-coveted 18 to 49 year olds (the season ended in May). Fox's talent show "American Idol" was the most-watched TV show overall. The TV segment reported fourth-quarter operating income of $403 million, an increase of $59 million, or 17%, vs. the same period a year ago and full-year operating income of $1 billion, an increase of 8% over fiscal 2005.

Cable programming reported fourth-quarter operating income of $194 million, an increase of $57 million over the fourth quarter a year ago, and record full-year operating income of $864 million, an increase of $162 million over fiscal 2005.

Fox News Channel reported operating-income growth of 15% for the fourth quarter, principally from higher revenue, and 25% growth for the full year, mainly from advertising-revenue gains driven by increased pricing and volume.

The magazines and inserts segment reported fourth-quarter operating income of $65 million, a decrease of $17 million vs. the $82 million reported in the quarter a year ago, and full-year operating income of $307 million, a 3% increase over fiscal 2005. Newspaper division operating income fell 32.5% to $170 million.
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