News Corp chief backs Foxtel despite subscription revenue fall

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp reported a bigger loss than the previous year

Rupert Murdoch's News Corp has shrugged off its latest annual loss with an upbeat assessment of its digital news and real estate assets.

News Corp. shares sank nearly 11 percent to $13.63 in NY, their biggest drop since the company split from Murdoch's 21st Century Fox Inc.in June 2013, after being down 5.9 percent this year through Thursday. Fox is now undergoing another breakup, with a plan to sell most of its TV and film assets to Walt Disney Co.

The Australian news and information division recorded 1% revenue growth while Foxtel was flat for the year, however it reported a 39% EBITDA fall of $69m in the final quarter compared to last year. The company posted earnings of 8 cents a share, excluding some items, and revenue of $2.69 billion - both topping analysts' estimates.

News says its revenue flows are now more global, digital and subscription-based.

Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News, competes with News Corp.in providing financial news and services.

News Corp Australia reported growth in digital advertising revenues, however overall revenue was down 3 per cent over the quarter.

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Digital revenues represented 30% of News and Information Services revenues compared to 26% past year.

Among the major themes from this past year and Q4 were the steps that News Corp. took "to stabilize" its News and Information Services segment, where "tangible improvement" was accomplished "through a combination of cost initiatives and digital investments", Panuccio said.

News Corp Australia's revenue rose just one per cent in the 12 months to 30 June 2018, while REA Group increased its revenue by 27 per cent to US$666 million.

But the result was skewed by accounting writedowns, including $US998 million for the consolidation of Foxtel and Fox Sports in Australia.

"Mastheads like The Times, The Sunday Times and The Wall Street Journal reached new heights in their digital transformation, with digital paid subscribers now exceeding print subscribers". The new Foxtel is focused on product innovation and leveraging its valuable content. The decline was partially offset by the growth in digital advertising revenues at News Corp Australia and News UK, increase in advertising revenues at Wireless Group and the positive impact from foreign currency fluctuations.

When the company launched the "new" News Corp. five years ago, "we promised to be relentlessly digital and global and that we would remain faithful to the principles and the values inherited from the founding company", Thomson told analysts.

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