Television

Taking advantage of digital age key to unlocking shareholder value: Murdoch

MUMBAI: A couple of days ago during a speech at News Corp's annual stock holder meeting, chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch stressed on the importance of taking advantage of the digital age.

Murdoch noted that if News Corp wanted to deliver on the mission of returning value to its shareholders then it is important that the company is transformed to take advantage of the massive digital transition that is occurring. "At its core, this company from the very beginning has been about offering choice – greater choice – to under-served consumers.

"It’s what led us to create a fourth broadcast network and a third cable news network; a regional sports network and a UK and Italian satellite platform. Empowering the consumer through greater choice is exactly what this company strives to accomplish. And there’s no greater medium of choice than the Internet."

He noted that to leverage the value of the online world the company formed a special Internet unit earlier this year. Properties like Intermix Media were acquired that have instantly delivered tens of millions of new customers, and, in the process, begun a transformation of the company.

Speaking on the media major's performance, the News Corp boss said, "I’m very pleased to report that fiscal 2005 was another record year for the Company on virtually every key financial indicator. The past three years of double-digit revenue and operating income growth have placed your company in the strongest financial position in its history."

Some highlights that Murdoch listed:

• Net income up 39 per cent to $2.1 billion. A record.

• Cash flow from operations up 41 per cent to $3.4 billion. A record.

• Revenues up 15 per cent to $23.9 billion. Another record.

News Corp finished the year with $6.5 billion in cash, while net debt fell to just $4.5 billion.

STAR EXCITING GROWTH DRIVER

Murdoch also made a pointed reference to News Corp's Asian operations stating: "The other major asset in the Television segment – our pan-Asian channels group Star – was a testament to how a bold, long-term vision can pay off. After a long infancy, Star has blossomed into one of News Corp’s most exciting growth drivers. Earnings more than doubled last year and I fully expect them to be significantly higher again this year. Star India, which has the most popular shows on cable and a vast library of local programming, is becoming a major profit contributor. And in China we have a great presence with Xing Kong and I’m confident of our future there."

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