Content is 'electronic emperor' says Murdoch

February 3, 2010 by Chris Lefkow
The logo of media firm News Corporation. Chief Executive of group, Rupert Murdoch, has repeated plans to begin charging online readers of his newspapers.

Buoyed by a box office hit in "Avatar" and better-than-expected profits, News Corp.'s Rupert Murdoch has predicted a rosy future for content companies such as his media and entertainment giant.

"The debate over the primacy of content is over," Murdoch told analysts after . reported a 254-million-dollar second-quarter net profit compared with a 6.4-billion-dollar loss in the same quarter a year ago.

"The value of content is now clear," said Murdoch, whose holdings include the Fox television networks, "Avatar" maker 20th Century Fox, The Wall Street Journal, the and newspapers in Australia and Britain.

"Content is not just king. It is the emperor of all things electronic," the News Corp. chairman and chief executive said.

Declaring News Corp. "the world's preeminent content company," Murdoch said "devices and platforms are proliferating."

"But this clever technology is merely an empty vessel without any great content," he said. "Without content, the ever larger and flatter screens, the tablets, the e-readers and the increasingly sophisticated mobile phones would be lifeless."

Murdoch repeated plans to begin charging online readers of his newspapers. The Wall Street Journal is currently the only major newspaper in the News Corp. stable to charge readers a subscription fee.

"We expect to expand to other titles in the coming months," Murdoch said. "We'll be charging for online wherever we have publications."

News Corp., he added, is also holding "a very substantive conversation with device makers on developing a subscription model that will provide high-quality journalism to consumers whenever and wherever they want it."

An outspoken critic of Amazon's Kindle, Murdoch said News Corp. -- owner of book publisher Harper-Collins -- had entered into an agreement with Apple, which unveiled its "iPad" last week.

Murdoch said the deal with Apple would allow for higher prices for e-books than the 9.99 dollars Amazon charges for bestsellers and hardcover releases.

Murdoch also said there have been "very early" talks with director James Cameron about making a sequel to "Avatar" and said the film will be released "as soon as possible" on DVD although the DVD version will not be in 3-D.

Murdoch's exuberance was boosted by second-quarter earnings per share of 25 cents, better than the 20 cents expected by Wall Streets analysts.

Revenue during the three months to December 31 also blew past the forecasts, rising 10 percent to 8.7 billion dollars. Analysts had predicted 8.23 billion dollars.

Last year's second-quarter results included a massive impairment charge and this year's second-quarter results also included a one-time charge -- a 500 million dollar settlement over lawsuits filed by Valassis Communications Inc.

By sector, newspapers saw operating income grow 30 percent to 259 million dollars on increased advertising revenue at The Wall Street Journal and lower operating expenses across the newspaper division.

Advertising revenue for the print edition of the Journal rose five percent and ad revenue at the digital version of the newspaper was 17 percent higher.

"Avatar," "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs," and other box office hits helped boost operating income in the film division to 324 million dollars, up from 112 million dollars a year ago.

Operating income for the broadcast television segment rose to 29 million dollars after losing two million dollars a year ago while cable networks improved to 604 million dollars from 448 million dollars a year ago.

SKY Italia lost 30 million dollars after making 10 million dollars a year ago.

News Corp. shares were trading 4.23 percent higher at 13.30 dollars in after-hours electronic trading.

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1 / 5 (2) Feb 03, 2010
Now- if Rupert the Great can only find a way to disentangle the inverse proportion rule of content, whereby its Quality varies inversly as the square of its Quantity, then he may rightly be crowned Emperor. OH- wait! Who cares about Quality? LOOK- Shiny Objects! Explosions! Smoke! Mirrors!
not rated yet Feb 04, 2010
Too simple, Caliban. news Ltd are very careful to choose their business opportunities. Their strategies for cracking the US market have been brilliant. "Married with Children" nailed American taste right in the heart. And Fox News is run by people who understand that there are a huge number of Americans who want to believe that America is always right, and honorable, regardless of the facts.

If you look carefully at News Ltd, and all its subsidiaries, then look closely at why they are so successful, it will give you wonderful insights into the American people.

News Ltd has done this around the world. They know more about national character in so many countries than anybody else, and their market approach is to address a void which appeals to an unmet market in that particular country.
1 / 5 (2) Feb 04, 2010
Too true, Richard. I don't suppose there's much money to be made by trying to elevate the protosimian demographic. I almost wish I'd thought of it first!

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