Australian newspaper revenues for News Corp dipped further in the final three months of last year, losing 17 per cent year-on-year with CEO Robert Thompson blaming a “challenging advertising market” for the global company’s revenues declining four per cent over the period to US$2.24bn.
However, the company claims ten per cent of the Australian operation’s decline can be attributed to the weakening Australian dollar with the rest blamed on “weaknesses” in the local market, while the consolidation of Fox Sports and increased ownership in Foxtel more than doubled earnings from the local operations to US$17m, from US$8m the year before.
However, cable TV operations revenue dropped three per cent to US$110m, but the increase in earnings was credited to the full effect of the consolidated holdings being felt, and lower programming costs for the group, thanks in part to the loss of the Big Bash League rights to Network Ten.
Revenues from digital Real Estate operation REA Group rose 20 per cent across the quarter to US$55m from US$46m the corresponding quarter, while overall earnings for the group increased by nine per cent to US$327m, from US$300m the year before, thanks largely to the property and publishing sectors.
In a statement on the fourth-quarter results Thomson said: “The earnings report demonstrates a measure of progress as we navigate a challenging advertising market. We are continuing to be disciplined on costs, while making opportunistic investments that will extend our revenue reach.
“The digital transformation is certainly underway, as the acquisition of Storyful and the robust growth in digital sales at HarperCollins attest. Digital subscriptions and website traffic are on the rise at most of our sites, and revenue at REA, the online real estate company, continues to expand encouragingly.”
Costs relating to the ongoing News of the World phone hacking scandal, which include compensation payouts to victims, were also down to US$8 from US$19 in the final part of 2012.