NewsCorp TV Businesses Boost Profits

12 May 2006

Media magnate Rupert Murdoch is mulling the flotation of the Sky Italia satellite television business.

The News Corporation chairman/ceo believes €5.5 billion ($6.99bn; £3.75bn) would be a minimum valuation for the company, which has 3.7 million subscribers, but stresses he is still "a long way from making a decision" about an IPO.

A listing would follow the same path as the UK's BSkyB, 38% of which is owned by NewsCorp.

Murdoch revealed his thinking following the release of strong fiscal third quarter earnings for the globe-spanning media giant, with net profit rising to $820m from $400m in the same period last year.

Sky Italia itself has now become profitable, generating operating income of $69m in the fiscal third quarter, $90m more than in the same period last year when it was still operating at a loss.

Advertising revenues for the group's television businesses, which also include the Fox broadcast network, rose sharply from $6bn to $6.2bn. However, the advertising climate for the publishing and newspaper arms is not so robust.

NewsCorp's newspaper interests lie chiefly in the UK and Australia where, says Murdoch, the ad environment is "hard work".

He is keen to emphasize the group's digital expansion and stressed "accelerated progress in our new media evolution".

News Corp has invested around $1.5bn in internet acquisitions, including social networking site, which now has nearly 80m registered users and is one of the world's fastest-growing internet businesses.

Data sourced from Financial Times online; additional content by WARC staff