Business, Economics and Jobs

News Corp could be split up, Wall Street Journal reports


A policeman walked through the security gates at News of the World's plant in London. On July 7, 2011, chief executive James Murdoch announced the newspaper will close.


Peter Macdiarmid

News Corp. could be split into two separate companies, one for publishing and another for entertainment, the Wall Street Journal reported today.

According to the WSJ, itself a News Corp. publication, the spin-off would result in a large film and television business comprising 20th Century Fox film studio, Fox broadcast network and Fox News channel, and a much smaller publishing business made up of its British, US and Australian newspapers, the HarperCollins book publishers and education assets.

Founder Rupert Murdoch and his family would remain in control of both. 

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News Corp. declined the BBC's request for a comment – but, given that previous speculation about a split has always been promptly denied, the BBC's business editor Robert Peston described the silence as a "non-denial confirmation."

Murdoch has only recently "warmed to the idea," according to the Journal's sources.

Restructuring would have the advantage of buffering News Corp.'s wider operations from the recent phone-hacking scandal at its British newspaper division. 

The allegations of misconduct have already prompted the UK's media regulator to review whether British satellite broadcaster BSkyB, of which News Corp. owns 39 percent, should be allowed to hold a broadcasting licence. Their decision is still pending; British lawmakers, however, have already described Murdoch as "not a fit person" to run a major international company.

A split would also make financial sense. According to the New York Times, outside investors have been pushing News Corp. to focus on its lucrative entertainment assets rather than its publishing business, which was the company's original core but today generates roughly a third of the profits that its film and TV businesses produce.

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