News Corp. all business


News Corp. moved to reposition its asset mix this year. Its big play was the $5 billion acquisition of financial news powerhouse Dow Jones, which increases the conglomerate's exposure to the sluggish newspaper business. But News Corp. chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch has said he wants to aggressively push to satisfy the growing global appetite for business news. In other major deal moves, the company agreed to sell its controlling stakes in DirecTV and Gemstar-TV Guide, with deals also expected to close on the sale of eight Fox TV stations and News Corp.'s Eastern European billboard business. An executive shuffle at News Corp. late in the year addressed the ever-present succession issue at the conglomerate, with James Murdoch taking on the role of chairman and CEO of News Corp.'s European and Asian operations -- ostensibly becoming heir apparent to father Rupert's media empire.

Summary and outlook: News Corp. saw its shares move lower in 2007, with the voting stock down 1.5% as of Wednesday. Its market capitalization moved above Time Warner's during the year and but has since retreated. Plus, profit at its broadcast unit was down for the first three quarters of 2007. However, film and cable networks unit operating profits were up double digits, and the company's Fox Interactive Media unit saw its operating performance for the same period swing to a profit of more than $34 million, compared with a year-ago loss. Key challenges in the new year will include the integration of the Dow Jones acquisition as well as FIM's competition with online challengers.

THR rating: $$$$ out of 5

Top performers:

Films: Night at the Museum, Live Free or Die Hard, Borat
DVDs: Nights at the Museum, Borat, Live Free or Die Hard
TV shows: American Idol, House, 24

Rankings: Boxoffice by U.S. gross through Dec. 18; DVDs by total units; TV by total viewers for 2006-07 season

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