Cable Channels Boost News Corp. in Q1

Sports Networks, FX, Fox News Lead Gains

News Corp. reported higher first-quarter earnings as its cable and broadcast television units reported strong gains.

Net income rose to $2.23 billion, or 94 cents per share, from $738 million, or 28 cents per share, a year ago.

The company said its first-quarter results, included $1.38 billion of “other” income, principally from a gain on the sale of its NDS unit, plus a $75 million pre-tax gain from British Sky Broadcasting’s share repurchase program.

During the quarter, the company also had a $152 million pre-tax restructuring and impairment charges primarily related to its newspaper and digital games businesses. The first-quarter results also reflected a $67 million charge related to the costs of the ongoing phone hacking investigations $5 million in costs related to the proposed separation of the company’s entertainment and publishing businesses.

Revenues rose 2% to $8.14 billion.

“Our operational discipline and focus on innovation continued to drive the company’s momentum in our fiscal first quarter, led by double-digit growth in our channels business and the global success of our film and television content,” said News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch in a statement. “Even against considerable currency headwinds due to a stronger dollar, we were able to increase News Corp’s revenue and adjusted segment operating profit over the prior year quarter while continuing to make key investments to position us for future growth.”

Murdoch added that News Corp. is “committed to leading the change that the marketplace and our customers demand as the company builds on its success at leveraging multi-platform opportunities for our content.  We believe that our ability to do so will be enhanced by the flexibility and management focus that will result from the proposed separation of our entertainment and publishing businesses.   We have made considerable progress in this process and look forward to providing more details by the end of the calendar year.”

Operating income for the company’s cable network programming group rose 23% to $953 million from $775 million. Domestic channels were up 33%, led by the regional sports networks, FX and Fox News Channel.

Domestic affiliate revenue rose 16%. Domestic ad revenue rose 8%

Operating income for the company’s television group rose to $156 million from $133 million. The company said the increase reflected retransmission revenues that more than double and increased local advertising driven by record political spending. National advertising was lower because of lower ratings and the impact of the Olympics.