News Corp re­ports sub­scrip­tions surge in all ti­tles

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - DAR­REN DAVID­SON

NEWS Corp says it has ben­e­fited from con­tin­ued dig­i­tal mo­men­tum with sub­scrip­tions to news­pa­pers in Aus­tralia up by a third in the past year.

News’ chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer Su­san Panuc­cio said Aus­tralian mast­heads, in­clud­ing the Bul­letin, had made good progress with ef­forts to ease more read­ers into the habit of pay­ing for dig­i­tal con­tent.

“Across the News Aus­tralia mast­heads, we now have ap­prox­i­mately 360,000 paid sub­scribers ... over 30 per cent higher from the prior year,” Ms Panuc­cio said in an an­a­lysts’ call for the com­pany’s fourthquar­ter re­sults.

The fig­ures in­cluded the ac­qui­si­tion of Aus­tralian Re­gional Me­dia, a pur­chase which helped to keep the quar­terly de­cline in ad­ver­tis­ing rev­enues to 1 per cent.

News also an­nounced it had lifted its full- year earn­ings be­fore in­ter­est and tax by 29 per cent on a year ago, to $ US885 mil­lion ($ 1.13 bil­lion) de­spite chal­leng­ing mar­ket con­di­tions.

How­ever, a se­ries of write­downs re­lated to fixed as­sets at its Aus­tralian and UK news­pa­pers, its in­vest­ment in Fox­tel and higher tax ex­penses saw it post a full- year loss of $ US643 mil­lion.

Rev­enue for the year was $ US8.14 bil­lion, down 2 per cent on the $ US8.29 bil­lion posted in the pre­vi­ous year, with the con­trac­tion am­pli­fied by a shorter re­port­ing pe­riod.

Dig­i­tal real es­tate re­mains one of the jew­els in the crown for News, with the di­vi­sion ac­count­ing for 40 per cent of group profit in the past year.

Chief ex­ec­u­tive Robert Thom­son said News had been suc­cess­ful in charg­ing a pre­mium for top- tier dig­i­tal real es­tate con­tent dur­ing the year, and that he ex­pected earn­ings from the sec­tor to ex­pand.

“We saw tan­gi­ble im­prove­ment in prof­itabil­ity, pow­ered by the fast- grow­ing dig­i­tal real es­tate ser­vices seg­ment, and we charged a pre­mium for pre­mium con­tent,” he said.

News- con­trolled on­line real es­tate plat­form REA Group yes­ter­day re­ported a 12 per cent rise in full- year profit to $ 228 mil­lion.

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