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News Corp notches up 23% rise in operating income

LONDON - News Corporation, owner of the Fox Network and News International, has reported a 23% rise in operating income to $1.05bn (£499m) for the three months ended September 30, because of a strong performance in box-office sales to films including ‘The Simpsons Movie'.

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Net profits were down 13% to $732m, although the comparison with the third quarter of 2006 is unfavourable because News Corp then made $428m in profit from the sale of shares in Sky Brasil and Phoenix.

Operating income in the group's filmed entertainment division rose 51% in the first quarter to $362m. 'The Simpsons Movie' earned over $524m worldwide, and a rise in the popularity of Twentieth Century Fox Television shows such as 'Family Guy' and 'Prison Break' also contributed to the increase.

The media group's newspaper division, which includes The Times, The Sun and The New York Post, reported a first-quarter operating income of $93m, down $31m from the $124m reported in the same period a year ago.

This was because of the development of new colour printing presses to be installed in the UK, as well as a slight decline in advertising revenues at UK newspapers.

Rupert Murdoch, chief executive of News Corp, said he expected to have full control of Dow Jones & Co, publisher of The Wall Street Journal, by December 14.

Dow Jones shareholders are scheduled to vote on the $5.2bn offer from News Corp on December 13, which will be the last step in making the deal official.

Murdoch said his first priority will be to make changes to "get it as we like it" and that he plans to tackle the Journal's US edition and website first. He added that plans were going "full bore" in spite of the looming economic uncertainty.

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