Murdoch Calls Halt to Buying Newspapers

19 September 2008

NEW YORK: Addressing the Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference in New York, the planet's most politically powerful media mogul told the thinning ranks of survivors among the moneymen that "we're not interested in buying any more newspapers".

[Murdoch omitted to say whether that lack of interest applies to the New York Times - a rival whose demise he admits to desiring.]

Turning his back on "old media", Rupert Murdoch now plans to focus on the digital assets of his most recent snatch, Dow Jones, which he regards as "crazily undervalued".

The Wall Street Journal website and other Dow digital assets had been "grossly undersold", Murdoch said, before his divide and rule tactics split Dow's [then] ruling Bancroft clan to enable the aptly eponymous owner of the Fox network to swallow the $5 billion (€3.52bn; £2.79bn) chicken last year.

Over $100m in online ad income could be delivered by, he opined. Currently the site bills advertisers around $100,000 daily for a prime position on its recently redesigned home page.

And over the next three years Murdoch expects to up subscription revenues from Dow Jones by more than $300m a year for the next three years.

Ad income at DJ print properties, including the WSJ and Barrons, would slip by $3m to $642m this year, Murdoch predicted, adding that "in the present Wall Street climate" it would be hard to demand higher rates for enterprise products such as Factiva.

As to his prime social networking property, the mogul salivated with impatience: "MySpace is going to be a great profit driver," he said. It charges an average of $500,000 daily for home page ads, rising on certain days to $1m.

Conversely, ad dollars are hard to come by at NewsCorp's local TV stations, hit by the downturn in the automotive sector from whence some 30%-40% of its revenues accrue. 

At Fox, however, all is sweetness and light. The national network is "holding incredibly well [with]almost no cancellations."

Data sourced from Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff