Fox Hit Hard by Bust in Sports Advertising

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LOS ANGELES ( -- The latest victim of the slumping advertising market was News Corp., which took a $909 million charge in its second-quarter results related to losses from its sports programming.

The currect advertising climate has hurt the media company's big-ticket sports contracts with the National Football League, Nascar auto racing and Major League Baseball.

In itemizing Fox's one time $909 million charge, $387 million was attributed to National Football League, $297 million to Nascar and $225 million for Major League Baseball. News Corp. controls 85% of the Fox Entertainment Group.

As a result the Fox posted a $606 million net loss after the writedown.

Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corp., confessed that second-quarter fiscal quarterly results ended Dec. 31 had fallen short of the company's goals. Fox Entertainment Group's 2000 second-quarter results had a net loss of $23 million.

The Fox Entertainment Group, News Corp's television, film and cable businesses, said it expected its 2002 cash flow to slide into single-digit percentage growth, compared with its earlier forecast of low- to mid-teen-percentage growth. Many media conglomerates have seen their cash flow also drop to the single-digit growth range.

Mr. Murdoch said News Corp. has fired Arthur Andersen, its consulting firm, but will continue to employ the embattled company's auditing services. Andersen is under federal investigation for its role in the Enron scandal.

News Corp. itself posted better-than-expected net profits, which came in at $203 million. Last year, it had earned $270 million for the same period.

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