Rupert Murdoch's News Corp has said that it swung to profit in the most recent quarter even as revenues dipped for its newspaper operations. Profit in the three months through December amounted to $119 million, compared with a loss of $66 million a year earlier, for the conglomerate that publishes the Wall Street Journal, The Times of London, and titles in Australia. Revenues rose 21 percent year-over-year as gains from new video subscription services, Australian pay TV and other operations offset weakness in the news and information unit.
The New York-based group also saw gains from its digital real estate and book publishing operations. Chief executive Robert Thomson said the results show "the power of premium content and authenticated audiences in a fact-challenged world that craves credibility."
He noted digital subscription gains at the Wall Street Journal, and stronger digital advertising revenues in both the US and Australia. Wall Street Journal digital subscriptions rose to 1.7 million at the end of December from 1.39 million a year earlier.
The digital subscriber base also rose at Australia's mastheads as well as The Times and The Sunday Times. But overall revenues dropped three percent for the news division in a quarter marked by gains in digital advertising and declines in print revenue.
The company said one-third of revenues in news come from digital, compared with 29 percent a year earlier, following an industry trend. The update for the fiscal second quarter also showed rising revenues at its HarperCollins book division lifted by the release of "Homebody" by Joanna Gaines and "The Next Person You Meet in Heaven" by Mitch Albom. News Corp retained the publishing operations of Murdoch's media-entertainment empire after a 2013 split that created 21st Century Fox.
Murdoch, 87, began a gradual withdrawal from both companies in 2013, and now shares the title of chairman with his eldest son Lachlan at both firms.