News Corp. Gains on Ad Rebound

News Corporation first quarter earnings rise on the rebounding advertising market.
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(News Corporation article updated with information from the company's first quarter conference call.)



) --

News Corporation

(NWSA) - Get Report

saw earnings rise during its first quarter, attributed to the rebounding advertising market.

For the quarter ended September 30, the company saw earnings rise 35.7% to $775 million, or 30 cents per diluted share, compared with earnings of $571 million, or 22 cents per diluted share, in the same period a year ago. Earnings came in ahead of analyst estimates of 24 cents a share.

Revenue was up 3.2% to $7.43 billion from $7.2 billion during the quarter as the company's cable network programming, television and publishing segments saw gains in advertising revenue.

Cable network programming revenue was up 16.6% to $1.87 billion from $1.61 billion while its operating income increased 28.5% to $659 million from $513 million.

Advertising revenue at domestic cable channels was up 16% due to higher volume. Fox News had more total viewers for both primetime and total day than CNN, MSNBC and CNBC combined in the first quarter. Revenue from international cable advertising gained 27% attributed to the improving ad market and more viewers.

"Our global cable network programming business continues to lead News Corporation's financial and operational momentum," chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch said." With continued subscriber growth in new and established channels throughout the world, and a global advertising recovery, our domestic and international channels now account for 25% of our revenues, and uniquely position us for profitable expansion of these franchises in the years to come."

Television revenue was up 11.2% to $851 million from $765 million, attributed to the rebounding local ad markets. Publishing revenue rose 33.3% to $2.05 billion from $1.98 billion due to higher advertising revenue and operational efficiencies at the company's newspapers. Publishing advertising revenue increased 22%, reflecting gains in local advertising, particularly in the automotive, telecommunications and financial sectors, as well as political advertising.

On the first quarter conference call, COO Chase Carey said that the current season of Fox network programming isn't doing as well as the company had hoped, but it is looking forward to the shows that will return next season, such as

American Idol


X Factor


Revenue from its filmed entertainment segment was down 1.2% to $1.5 billion from $1.52 billion. The decrease was due to the difficult comparison to 2010's first quarter results, which included earnings from the success of

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs

, which was the highest international grossing animated film of all time.

Its digital media group revenue fell in the first quarter, primarily due to lower search and advertising revenues at MySpace.

"We've been clear that MySpace has been a problem," Carey said. "We had to rebuild the business."

The company recently re-launched MySpace with a focus of "social entertainment." Management made adjustments in its cost structure by reconsolidating ad sales, and intends to focus on getting the business to a sustainable level.

Today the company announced that it

plans to make a bid to take over the Board of British Sky Broadcasting

, or BSkyB, a U.K.-based pay TV operator.

News Corp. currently owns 39% of BSkyB and is looking to buy the remaining 61%.

-- Written by Theresa McCabe in Boston.

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