News Corp. Posts Higher Results on Advertising

News Corp. (NWS) said its first quarter operating income more than doubled and revenues rose 12 percent, reflecting improvements at its cable networks division and stronger advertising.

The company owns the Fox television network, 20th Century Fox film studios and a host of newspapers and satellite assets. News Corp. is also the parent company of the Fox News Channel, which operates

The company posted a net profit for the first quarter ended Sept. 30 of $162 million, or 12 cents per American depositary receipt, against $73 million, or 6 cents per ADR, in the year earlier period.

Revenue rose 12 percent to $3.81 billion from $3.4 billion a year ago.

The company's television unit saw its operating income rise more than three-and-a-half times, helped by improved ratings from Fox network shows like American Idol.

Meanwhile Fox Entertainment Group Inc. (FOX), owner of the Fox film and television assets of News Corp. Ltd, reported a quarterly net profit of $214 million compared with a year ago loss due mainly to strong television operations.

Fox operates the 20th Century Fox film studio, Fox broadcast network, cable TV networks, local TV stations and various other entertainment companies.

In a statement, Fox attributed its strong results to subscriber growth at its Fox News Channel and FX cable TV channels, as well as higher affiliate rates for its regional sports network. Fox's film unit also turned in strong cash flow figures, the company said.

Fox reported a fiscal first quarter net profit of 25 cents a share, compared with a year ago net loss of $22 million, or 3 cents per share. Excluding accounting changes, the company would have reported a profit of $56 million, or 8 cents per share last year.

News Corp.'s revenues for the first quarter ended Sept. 30 rose 14 percent to $2.3 billion from $2.1 billion last year, when the entire media industry was mired in a slump due to weak advertising spending.

Fox television stations saw results improve helped by stronger advertising. A year ago, the advertising market was at its lowest point in decades, hurt by an ailing economy and cancellations as a result of the Sept. 11 attacks.

News Corp.'s cable networks also increased three-and-a-half times, as subscribers to its Fox News Channel grew by 10 percent and advertising improved.

The company's film unit, which includes 20th Century Fox film and television production, saw its operating income fall 18 percent from a year ago, when the unit benefited from the box office success of Planet Of The Apes.

The newspaper unit, which includes the New York Post and the Times of London, saw operating income fall 23 percent, hurt by circulation revenue declines for The Sun in the UK.

Reuters contributed to this report.