Broadcast growth helps News Corp profit rise to $536m

LONDON – Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation has reported a solid rise of 27% in first-quarter net income to $536m (£290.4m), boosted by growth in its broadcast and newspaper divisions.

Net income in the three months to September 30 2004 from the company's range of media businesses rose to $536m from $422m in the same quarter last year. Revenue for the period was up 12% to $5.19bn from $4.65bn.

There were good performances at its cable, broadcast and newspaper units but the good fortune did not extend to the film and TV production and satellite TV units.

Operating profit at the cable networks unit was up 47% to $196m, thanks in part to higher ad revenues at Fox News Channel and FX in the US.

At the broadcast TV business, business rose 30% to $233m, with Asian satellite network Star TV doing well from increased ad sales in India and China.

Newspaper operating profit grew 18% to $120m, but the main growth came from Australia, with the UK newspaper group's operating profit remaining flat. Increased ad revenues were cancelled out by production costs at The Times, which was printing a compact and broadsheet version each day. It scrapped the broadsheet at the start of this week.

At the film and TV production business, operating profit was down 13% to $285m, but the worst results were for the satellite TV business, which made an operating loss of $121m. Performance worsened from the same period last year's loss of $117m because of subscriber acquisition costs at Sky Italia.

Murdoch, chairman of News Corp, said in a conference call that he was optimistic that the company would deliver another year of record earnings and was planning to launch a financial news channel in the near future.

News Corp is currently in the process of moving its headquarters and main stock market listing to the US from Australia and will issue new US stock on November 12.

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