News Corp revenue up 20 per cent for the year

MUMBAI: The Rupert Murdoch-owned media conglomerate News Corporation has reported full year revenues of $21 billion.

This marks an increase of 20 per cent over the $17.5 billion reported a year ago.

Revenues for the fourth quarter- - - ended 30 June 2004- - - also increased by 20 per cent to $5.5 billion. Television segment operating income went up by 12 per cent to $957 million for the year.

Star's fourth quarter operating income increased by 52 per cent. It was bolstered by an 18 per cent revenue growth versus the same quarter a year ago. Full year operating income grew substantially on advertising growth of 21 per cent.

Revenue gains for both the quarter and the year were driven primarily in India, where Star Plus comfortably maintained its leadership position as the top cable entertainment channel. Additionally, the full year benefited from higher subscription revenues at Star Plus and continued expansion in China from increased penetration of the Xing Kong channel, which has become the number one national/ regional channel in the Guangdong cable market.

In the US, the Fox News Channel (FNC) reported operating income growth of over 40 per cent for both the fourth quarter and full year as higher advertising pricing drove strong double-digit revenue gains over a year ago.

FNC has maintained its leadership position as the number one cable news channel for over two and a half years and during the fourth quarter and full year exceeded the viewership of its nearest competitor by more than

50 per cent in primetime and more than 60 per cent on a 24-hour basis.

In the motion pictures section, the operating income went up by 38 per cent on the continued strength of home entertainment sales of film and television titles and string of theatrical hits. For the full year, film results were primarily driven by the worldwide home entertainment and pay-TV performances of X-2: X-Men United, 28 Days Later, Daredevil, Drumline, Just Married, Phone Booth and various catalogue titles combined with several successful theatrical releases during the year, including The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Cheaper By the Dozen.

News Corp chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch added, "2004 was another outstanding year for News Corporation, punctuated by fourth quarter operating income growth of 31 per cent. We delivered our third consecutive year of record operating profits on double digit revenue and operating income gains.

"Our success was once again achieved across our uniquely balanced collection of assets with record profits generated at nearly every established business segment from our film to our television to our print assets.

"It was a year in which we enjoyed the success achieved through expanded distribution of our content, such as our films and television product in home entertainment and our growing ratings and subscribers at our array of cable channels.

"And it was a year in which we translated market leadership positions into increased advertising revenues, beginning with our broadcast and cable upfront and including record market share and profits at our station group and sustained strength at our various print assets.

"It was also a year in which we further expanded our distinctive global distribution reach with the rapid development of our direct-to-home television investments. Sky Italia quickly ramped up its subscriber base, as well as its average revenue per subscriber, connecting with nearly 2.7 million subscribers by fiscal year-end."

"DirecTV mirrored this success, adding over 915,000 subscribers since our acquisition at the end of the calendar year. The brisk subscriber growth at these dynamic platforms is a testament to their tremendous long-term growth potential."

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