Fox Lifts News Corp.’s 4Q


A performance bounce from the Fox network and Fox News Channel helped to lift
News Corp.’s quarterly numbers into the black.

The company posted profits for its fiscal fourth quarter of $370 million,
compared with a $1.74 billion loss a year ago, when News Corp. had to write off
its investment in Gemstar-TV Guide International Inc.

The improvement was fueled by stronger ratings and advertising income from
Fox and Fox News.

Cable-network programming -- including Fox News, Fox Cable Networks Group, FX
and Speed Channel -- pulled in $96 million in income, up $62 million compared
with the fourth quarter of 2002. For the year, the cable networks’ income
totaled $430 million, more than doubling the amount from 2002.

Fox News saw viewership during the quarter increase 92% in primetime and 108%
on a 24-hour basis.

Meanwhile, News Corp. is still trying to close its deal to acquire 34% of
Hughes Electronics Corp. for $6.6 billion in cash and stock.

That would give it controlling interest in Hughes’ DirecTV Inc. satellite-TV
subsidiary, but there are several regulatory hoops remaining to clear, including
a favorable ruling from the Internal Revenue Service and sign-off from the
Federal Communications Commission.