Murdoch: tough year ahead

News Corp is anticipating a tough 2009, said Rupert Murdoch, reporting the media giant’s latest set of results. The company reported first quarter net profit of US$515m ($754.6m), a 29.6% fall on the same period last year.

The decrease, said News Corp, was largely down to a decline in its operating profit and financial contributions from affiliates. Total operating profit fell 9% for the quarter to Sept 30.

"I am confident that our long-term strategy of cultivating diversified assets at different stages of development, judicious investment of our capital and a strong balance sheet will guide us through these difficult times," Murdoch said, adding that he was pleased that the company's cable group continued to perform extremely well. However, Murdoch said the advertising downturn meant a “pretty grim” picture at News Corp’s US TV stations.

And the group has revised its forecast for operating profit, saying the expected 6% growth for the full year would not eventuate, instead forecasting a 15% drop. Not helping matters is the large hit News Corp is taking from German pay-TV platform Premiere. News Corp’s share of Premiere’s losses was US$447 million.

"Sky Italia remains a top performer and Fox Interactive Media is seeing revenue growth even in the face of negative macroeconomic conditions around the globe, including weak advertising markets," said Murdoch.

Sky Italia generated operating income of US$165m, an improvement of US$117m on the position a year ago, with net subscriber additions of 359,000 over the past 12 months.