News Corp. disappoints Wall Street

News Corporation (NWS), the sprawling media empire controlled by tycoon Rupert Murdoch, today reported worse than expected quarterly earnings as declines in local advertising dragged down its TV businesses.

Net income was $2.7 billion, or $1.04 per share, little changed from the year earlier period. Revenue fell 16 percent to $7.37 billion. Excluding one-time items, analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected the parent company of 20th Century Fox and the Fox Business Channel to earn 16 cents -- which, after numerous one-time items are factored out, it did. Revenue was below the $7.7 billion consensus expectations.

Operating income for the third fiscal quarter ended March 31, was $755 million, down 47 percent from a year ago.

The Australian tycoon, who oftentimes appears more interested in amassing influence than benefiting shareholders, was pleased with News Corp's performance. "Our third quarter results directly reflect the continuing weakness of the global economic climate," said Murdoch in the earnings release. "Despite this tough environment, we have proven resilient in several key areas this quarter."

Operating income at Fox News Channel nearly doubled year over year, boosting operating income at Cable Network Programming by 30 percent to $429 million, an increase of $99 million over the third quarter a year ago. Filmed Entertainment operating income was $282 million, eight percent higher on improved contributions contributions from Twentieth Century Fox.

Declines in the Fox Television Stations, FOX Broadcasting Company and STAR pushed down results in the Television business as local ad markets continued to weaken. The company's satellite television, newspaper and book publishing businesses all showed declined. News Corp.'s segment that includes MySpace posted an $89 million loss.
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