News Corp. Q4 results dripping in red ink


News CorporationIn his prepared remarks, News Corporation Chairman/CEO Rupert Murdoch focused on the company’s full year results – perhaps because there wasn’t much to point to during the three months of its fiscal Q4.

Results were much better during the course of the year, with total segment operating income of $5.379B compared to the previous year’s $4.85B.

However, during Q4, the company suffered losses in four out of five divisions, with Cable Network Programming providing the good news. It increased operating income from $631M to $792M. Meanwhile, Television fell from $233M to $231M; Publishing plummeted from $270M to $139M’ Filmed Entertainment also fell steeply from $210M to $120M; and DBS Television fell from $145M to $89M.

The Q4 television results were bolstered by transmission consent revenue, which was said to have doubled; but were hurt by a drop in national advertising, much of which was attributable to the decline of “American Idol.”

“We are proud of the full year financial growth achieved over the last twelve months, led by our Cable Network Programming and Filmed Entertainment segments,” stated Murdoch. “Not only did we execute on our operating plan and deliver on our financial targets, we returned over $5 billion to shareholders through an aggressive buyback program and dividends. In addition, significant progress has been made in opportunistically addressing the Company’s non-consolidated assets, as demonstrated by the purchase of Fox Pan American Sports, the sale of NDS and the announced intention to purchase the remaining ownership stake of ESPN STAR Sports and Consolidated Media Holdings.”

Murdoch continued, “Our Company has continued to innovate, grow and consistently adapt to the rapidly changing media industry landscape. We find ourselves in the middle of great change, driven by shifts in technology, consumer behavior, advertiser demands and economic uncertainty and change brings about great opportunity. News Corporation is in a strong operational, strategic and financial position, which should only be enhanced by the proposed separation of the media and entertainment and publishing businesses.”

RBR-TVBR observation: We have to say we are stunned at the television sector’s negative result. For most television groups in this post-Citizens United election year, attaining favorable comps has pretty much been a matter of being open for business. It certainly underscores the depth of the problems at the rapidly-aging American Idol franchise.

We can say on a personal note that we started watching Idol only when our kids started watching it. They don’t any longer, so neither do we.