NEW YORK: Talks between media moguls Rupert Murdoch and John Malone over the latter's stake in the former's News Corporation empire have made progress, according to Liberty Media.

Murdoch's prolonged attempts to wrest Malone's shares from his grasp have led to an offer to swap them for a stake in US satellite giant DirecTV - or other NewsCorp assets.

Liberty ceo Greg Maffei says: "While I'm not sure where our negotiations with News will take us, one of the elements of a DirecTV deal that is appealing is the flexibility we would have."

NewsCorp's chief operating officer Peter Chernin also confirmed the company has had "constructive talks" with Liberty and that a deal could still be inked by the end of this year.

Last month, shareholders extended a controversial 'poison pill' anti-takeover measure to protect the Murdoch clan's controlling interest in NewsCorp [WARC News: 23-Oct-06].

DirecTV has reported that third quarter profit almost quadrupled to $370.2 million (€289.6m; £194m) after the company raised prices. Sales increased 13% to $3.67 billion.

NewsCorp, meanwhile, posted a fiscal first quarter profit as advertising sales climbed at its Fox broadcast and cable television networks. Net income was $843m, compared with a loss of $433m when the company had accounting costs. Sales rose 4.1% to $5.91 billion.

And Liberty also released third quarter results for the parent company and its two divisions: Liberty Interactive Group, which consists largely of its holdings in home shopping network QVC, and Liberty Capital Group, which includes the cable network Starz Entertainment.

Liberty said it earned $63m, compared with a loss of $94m in the same period a year earlier. Revenue grew to $2.1bn from $1.85 billion.

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff