Profits up as Murdoch plan for ‘new Fox’ on track
TWENTY-First Century Fox reported a jump in profits in the past quarter on Wednesday as the conglomerate controlled by Rupert Murdoch said it was on track to complete a key asset sale and l a unch a slimmed-down media group.
The New York-based mediaentertainment company said its profit in the period rose 54 per cent f rom a yea r ago to $1.29 billion, lifted by a $220 million gain from the sale of it s s t a ke i n Br it i sh-ba s e d broadcaster Sky.
Revenues rose two per cent from a year ago to $7.2 billion in the quarter ending September 30, t he f irst f isca l quarter for the group.
The boost in prof its come with Fox on track to complete the sale of key film and telev ision assets, including its big Hol ly wood st udio, to Walt Disney Co. i n a $71 bi l l ion blockbuster deal.
The dea l wi l l a l low Murdoch, 87, who has been gradually turning over control of his media empire to his t wo sons, to slim down his holdings to focus on a “new Fox” t o i nclude t he US-ba s e d broadcast net work a nd Fox News Channel.
“We cont i nue to del iver against our growth plan even as we make important strides toward completing our Disney transaction and launching [the new] Fox in the first half of next year,” said a statement from Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch, who share the title of executive chairman.
“We have assembled a stella r leadership tea m for Fox, giv ing us further confidence in the new company’s ability to capture opportunit ies in l i v e pr o g r a mmi ng w h i le delivering long-term value for shareholders.”
In September, Fox agreed to sell its 39 per cent stake in Sky to Comcast, giving the US cable and media giant full control of the British television giant.
That agreement ends a longrunning battle for control of Sky by Murdoch in the face of resistance by British regulators a nd f i r ms up t he new landscape in the sector with Comcast in control of Sky and Disney set to expand its footprint with telev ision and film assets from Fox.
In the quarterly results, Fox sa id its cable net work programming operations delivered operat i ng ea r ni ngs of $1.54 billion, a t wo per cent increase, amid higher affiliate and advertising revenues.
Its telev ision unit saw a 38 per cent jump in operat ing profit to $168 million, helped by its results from the World Cup broadcasts.
The f ilmed enterta inment unit lifted operating earnings eight per cent to $277 million on improvement in TV studio operations and licensing fees, although box office revenues decreased.