Fox dampens higher profit, revenue at News Corp

Wed Feb 6, 2013 7:08pm EST
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By Jennifer Saba

(Reuters) - Rupert Murdoch's News Corp on Wednesday reported higher quarterly revenue and profit on strong growth at its cable assets including its Regional Sports and FX networks.

But the rosy quarterly figures - revenue and profit beat expectations - masked troubles at three of News Corp's properties, most notably Fox.

The "fourth network," as Fox is sometimes called, has seen ratings weaken, with more softness at "American Idol" and "X-Factor."

"It's no secret (Fox) had a tough fall," said News Corp President and Chief Operating Officer Chase Carey on a call with analysts, pinning the blame on both programming and a sports line up that fell short of expectations.

Carey, for instance, specifically cited the fact that the San Francisco Giants' World Series sweep of the Detroit Tigers deprived Fox of three high profile nights of live event programming.

News Corp's other trouble spots were overseas, with SKY Italia experiencing a drop off in subscribers because of that tough economy and declines at its Australian newspapers - the early seeds of the News Corp empire.

Carey said Sky Italia's performance so far this year is tracking $100 million below expectations and $150 million lower than last year's performance. He said News Corp plans to take $200 million out of the unit's cost base over the next two to three years.

Shares of News Corp, whose global assets also include The Wall Street Journal and film studio Twentieth Century Fox, fell 3 percent in after-hours trading after closing at $28.22 on Wednesday.   Continued...

A passer-by stands in front of the News Corporation building in New York June 28, 2012. REUTERS/Keith Bedford