News Corp Earnings Slip in March Quarter

News Corp Earnings Slip in March Quarter
The Australian and Daily Telegraph as two of many newspapers belonging to News Corp. SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 28, 2014.(Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)

News Corp’s third-quarter earnings declined two percent to $US 242 million ($A374 million) led by a decline in print advertising revenue and Foxtel subscribers.

The company posted a net loss for the March quarter of $US 1 billion, after taking a $US1.1 billion ($A1.7 billion) non-cash impairment charge against its Foxtel and News America Marketing assets.

The media giant reported total revenue of $US2.27 billion, an 8 percent decline from a year ago due to lower print-related advertising revenues and foreign currency fluctuations.

The Rupert Murdoch-controlled company said the COVID-19 pandemic will have an impact on its results in the June quarter and all of its businesses will embark on cost-cutting programs.

“We are operating in a different, difficult time,” Chief Executive Robert Thomson said.

“Clearly the pandemic will have an impact on our results in the fourth quarter, but all of our businesses are embarking on cost-cutting programs.”

Senior executives will take a pay cut with Murdoch voluntarily forgoing his entire cash bonus for the current fiscal year, and Thomson himself to forgo 75 per cent of his annual cash bonus.

News Corp said Foxtel’s Kayo live sports streaming service was showing strong growth, with 408,000 paying subscribers as of March 31, compared to 148,000 paying subscribers in the prior year.

Since then, however, subscriber numbers have dipped to 272,000 paying subscribers as of May 2, reflecting the cancellation of live sports during the pandemic.

The company completed its sale of News America Marketing to private equity firm Charlesbank Capital Partners on May 5, receiving $US235 million ($A360 million).

The business had been established to distribute coupons via newspaper inserts but had become surplus to requirements with News Corp’s shift to digital.

The company said that the Wall Street Journal reached a record 3 million subscribers in the last week, 2.2 million of which are digital-only.

It had 613,000 digital subscribers at its Australian mastheads as of March 31, compared to 493,200 in the prior year.

Thomson said News Corp was continuing a strategic review of its Australian newspaper business, “focusing on our larger brands and our digital reach”.

“Trends at News Australia have remained very challenging, with advertising revenue down 20 per cent on a reported basis and 30 percent down in local currency,” chief financial officer Susan Panuccio told analysts on a conference call.