Profit falls, sales rise at News Corp

News Corp first-quarter profit fell 13 per cent from a year earlier, when the sale of investments boosted results by $428 million (E291m). Income dropped to $732 million from $843 million a year earlier. Sales rose 19 per cent to $7.07 billion.

Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch highlighted the results at Fox Interactive Media, that includes the company’s social-networking Web site MySpace. The company said losses at the division narrowed as search revenue improved, driven by a partnership with Google that took effect in January. “With more than four years under its belt, MySpace is seeing a stable and steady growth curve,” Murdoch said. He brushed off concerns about competition from Facebook, saying such fears were “misplaced.”

Operating income at filmed-entertainment jumped 51 per cent to $362 million. At the company’s television segment, which includes the Fox network and News Corp.’s TV stations, earnings fell 4.7 per cent to $183 million. The company said improved results at Fox Broadcasting were offset by lower contributions from its TV stations and a full quarter of losses at MyNetworkTV, which was launched in September 2006.

Operating income at the company’s cable-network-programming unit rose 16 per cent to $289 million. Operating income at Fox News channel more than doubled, offset by start-up costs.

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