Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch on Company's Record-Breaking Revenues

This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," May 4, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, ANCHOR: In the meantime, everyone’s concerned about whether the economy is firing on all cylinders or not. Well, media stocks and media companies, more to the point, are said to be good indicators of the economy, maybe precursors to what’s happening.

And, if that is true, count yourself maybe a News Corp booster, as the parent company of this fine network and 20th Century Fox, and HarperCollins, and on and on reporting much, much, much better-than-expected earnings in the latest period that dwarfed well past some of the estimates in there, a 67 percent increase over last year, but, across the board, in almost all key businesses, which would seem to indicate, as we get into the details with my boss, that maybe the consumer is back and the economy, too.

Rupert Murdoch, good to have you.


CAVUTO: Wow. I was looking through this, and pretty nice. What’s happening?

MURDOCH: I wish they were always like that.

CAVUTO: Yes, right, right.


CAVUTO: This is your strongest quarterly performance ever, right?

MURDOCH: Yes, but, you know, we’re comparing with a pretty bad year.

CAVUTO: Absolutely. But — but, as far as media companies, it stands out.

MURDOCH: Yes, absolutely. And we had a few exceptional events.

For instance, The Wall Street Journal was up 25 percent in advertising for the quarter, the only big newspaper in the country that was up at all for the quarter. So, we’re very pleased with that.

CAVUTO: Is that the result of just higher ad revenue or more subscribers? Both?

MURDOCH: Just ad revenue. I’m only talking about ad revenue.

CAVUTO: OK. Got you.

MURDOCH: Yes. Subscribers are up half-a-percent or something.

CAVUTO: Well, that alone is an anomaly.

MURDOCH: Again, yes.

CAVUTO: Right.

MURDOCH: So, we’re very happy with The Journal.

CAVUTO: And then that big blue guy from "Avatar" helps, right?

MURDOCH: That helped a lot.


MURDOCH: It was — yes, that contributed probably something a bit more than $200 million to this quarter...

CAVUTO: All right. And...

MURDOCH: ...and will produce, you know, more in the next quarter, not as much, and then more next year. It will slowly run down.

CAVUTO: Yes, because that one goes into DVD, of course, as it is.


MURDOCH: DVD has sold 10 million DVDs in 10 days, the highest ever, 40 percent of it in Blu-ray at $24, which is, again, an all-time record.

CAVUTO: All right. Cable looking strong, Fox News, this — this place, looking really strong, best quarter ever, right?

MURDOCH: Looking great. Oh, yes, absolutely.

CAVUTO: What do you think is driving all of this?

MURDOCH: Well, I think as far as Fox News goes, it’s very simple. It’s very powerful, it’s very good, and it’s very balanced.

And, you know, everybody else, every newspaper other than ours, and every — this may be an overgeneralization, but for the most part newspapers, and certainly the other television networks sort of are all on one side, and sort of the liberal side of things, and where I think the population of this country is pretty worried about its direction, and they turn to Fox News.

CAVUTO: So, when you see the criticism in the media, criticism of you personally or Fox News, or Fox anything, period, do you just look at numbers like this and say, bring it on, bring it on?

MURDOCH: It’s good for ratings. Yes, absolutely.


CAVUTO: But, you know, do you buy the argument, Rupert, that as media companies go — let’s say your own leading that pack — it’s a good precursor, a good barometer for the economy, that — that it’s a sign that the appetite for spending is up, the appetite for advertising is up, the economy could be coming back?

MURDOCH: Well, yes.

But the truth is that, if you go across all the major newspapers in this country, they were down this year a bit in the first quarter, as against the previous quarter, when they were down a tremendous amount.

So, it’s a little too early to jump at that. But television, local television stations, they’re well up on last year. But last year was a disaster for them. So, you know, the comparisons, you can’t say we’re in a boom period yet.

CAVUTO: Still, you handily beat — you handily beat all the estimates out there.


MURDOCH: about recovery, and things are getting much better.

CAVUTO: All right.

So, that’s succeeding in an environment with a Democratic president who has an aggressive spending agenda. Is it just that people are curious what your media entities are doing to crunch the numbers and follow that, or is it a sign he’s doing something right?

MURDOCH: I don’t know.

No, I think the economy was in a state of shock last year. People just cut all spending. And they feel they have to come back into the marketplace and be active, nothing like they were three years ago.

But, you know, you take the big department stores in New York, they’re making money now, probably on lower turnover, but they’re not discounting 70 percent, which they were doing a year ago.

CAVUTO: You were never discounting things, were you?



MURDOCH: No. No, we don’t discount.


CAVUTO: By the way, how are your — how are your relations with the White House right now?

MURDOCH: Very good. I was down there on Saturday at the White House Correspondents Dinner, and had very friendly words with several of the staff there.

CAVUTO: And they were nice to you? And...

MURDOCH: Oh, they always are, yes.

CAVUTO: OK. So, this idea of bad blood between you or Fox or the White House and all that, all of...

MURDOCH: Oh, I’m sure they don’t like Fox News, of course, but — or The Wall Street Journal — but, you know, we have a very civil personal relationship.


I know you travel all over the world. And I thought, while I have you here, you know, the markets took a shellacking today, largely on concern — if we can show the Dow today — largely on concern that — that Greece is — can’t get out of its own way, and that there’s going to be a contagion here, as Europeans lose confidence in themselves.

How bad is this? Are you worried, as sort of a global player, that the globe, certainly over there, is melting?

MURDOCH: I think it’s very fragile. Certainly, Europe is a big problem. And, you know, maybe it would have been better if Greece had defaulted and paid 50 cents on the dollar, or whatever.

But if you take all of Greeks` debts and obligations, unfunded and funded, it’s something like 850 percent of their GDP.

Now, America, you know, is several times GDP also, but not like that. But...


CAVUTO: But could we be Greece?

MURDOCH: Greece is small, but, you know, Greece goes, then they’re worried about what happens to Spain and Portugal and Italy — even Britain. The British...

CAVUTO: Do you think Britain could, down the road, be there?

MURDOCH: Britain has a deficit this year, as big, per capita, as we have here, at $1.5 trillion here. It’s 180 or 175 billion pounds in England. On a per capita basis, that’s about equal. And, of course, we’ve got an election coming in 48 hours.

CAVUTO: How do you think that’s going to go?

MURDOCH: Don’t know. I think there’s a – there’s a feeling for change. But whether it will be — you know, force a coalition government or a complete change, we don’t know yet.

CAVUTO: If the Conservative is elected there, Mr. Cameron, many interpret or will likely interpret that as a sign the world is moving to the right again.

Would you buy that?

MURDOCH: Yes, I think so.

I think the world is very worried about these enormous debts, which probably can’t be paid. And so, someone’s got to start cutting. And it’s not going to be pleasant.

You know, a lot of the bureaucracy — in some big British cities, Liverpool, Glasgow, probably Manchester, but 70 percent of all people at work, work for a government, the government, local or central. And that’s unproductive. So, there you are.

CAVUTO: Back in this country — and I — we were joking, because I have one of these...


MURDOCH: I’m sorry. We just don’t want to see this country go the same way.

CAVUTO: I’m sorry.

I have one of these iPad devices. I get The Journal on this iPad device. And you had said a long time ago the content will still be necessary. The vehicle over which it’s carried will be the only debate.

Do you think that this device, the iPad, is going to be, for newspapers, the printed word, the savior?

MURDOCH: Yes, I think digital printing — look, there’s never been such demand for journalism as there is today, nor as much consumption.

I mean, just look at Fox News or its competitors. People are consuming and needing news all the time. We don’t care in the least whether it goes out on a piece of paper or whether it goes out on a digital platform. There will be many competitors to the iPad.

CAVUTO: But is this your favorite device?


MURDOCH: Well, it’s the only one at the moment, but there are ones coming.

CAVUTO: Well, there are others that carry "The Wall Street Journal."

MURDOCH: Oh, little ones, you know — yes, but I mean big ones, where you can really see the display.

CAVUTO: You met with Steve Jobs, right?

MURDOCH: Yes, about a week ago, 10 days ago.

CAVUTO: And what was that about?

MURDOCH: It was just to get to know him and be friendly. And he was trying to get me to let him put television shows on very, very cheaply.


MURDOCH: Yes. We’re not doing that.

CAVUTO: Really? So, how did the end of that meeting go?

MURDOCH: Oh, we’re going to let him rent — he rents films now.


MURDOCH: That’s fine. Or can sell — you can — films, if you want to put it down. And we’ll do that with TV, probably.

They can have rental at a — truly, at a very reasonable price, you know, half-hour, half-hour comedies, if you want to put it on there, and it lasts a month.

CAVUTO: Yes. Yes.

I would have them pay triple for anything I do for this network, just as an aside.


CAVUTO: Is it your sense, Rupert, with these latest terror concerns in this country, that, all of the sudden, we have been getting comfortable, almost too much so, that this was not a concern, and then, right around the block from these offices here, a real terror threat and concern? We don’t know what happened in Houston yet, but we’re seeing more examples that give us pause.

Does this kind of stuff worry you? Are you worried about another big event?

MURDOCH: Oh, sure. I think it may be tried. At the moment, they seem to be doing a lot of small things.

It’s come out this afternoon that this guy was a Pakistani who had just been back to Pakistan and had been trained — obviously, pretty badly trained. But we were very lucky that a lot of people weren’t killed last Saturday night in Times Square, as you say, a couple of hundred yards from where we’re sitting.

And I think, yes, we have been lulled by the terrific work of the New York police and the FBI, and I suppose coordinated by the Homeland Security to some extent — but, I mean, attempt after attempt, big and small, have been thwarted.

CAVUTO: All right.

A real pleasure having you. These are great numbers.

MURDOCH: Thank you.

CAVUTO: We can all feel a little more secure, for at least another quarter.


CAVUTO: Rupert Murdoch, thank you very, very much — the man who oversees this empire we call News Corporation.

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