Blog Post

Earnings: Murdoch Uses Call To Highlight FIM; Says Unit Will Redefine Internet Portal, Go Deep Local

The News Corp. earnings call, which is still going on, included a lengthy description by Chairman & CEO Rupert Murdoch of Fox Interactive Media’s role within News Corp. and the importance of the internet to the company’s plans. He said the unit, initially framed as a collection of Fox online resources, “will encompass all of our internet development.” FIM is a standalone, profit-generating unit of the company that places “all of the company’s digital resources under one umbrella.” He took the opportunity to re-emphasize the company’s commitment to the internet, a major turnaround after years of benign neglect (my words, not his), stressing that FIM “constitutes a major development for the company signifying a major commitment to this space” and a commitment to profit and asset building.
Local: Murdoch sent a wake-up call to local online players, ticking off the lengthy list of local properties in the U.S. — 35 o-and-o TV stations, 21 regional sports nets, print, existing web sites. “We already have the assets to be a dominant player” in online local. “We go deeper with more resources than virtually anyone else … We plan to exploit that advantage.”
Search: In response to a question about search, Murdoch said the company is in “advanced negotiations” to buy controlling interest in a search company but he also said about acquisitions “we’ll be looking at additional assets at modest prices.” He also said about acquisitions, “expect additional announcements as we work to achieve our goal.”

Portal: At least twice, Murdoch mentioned redefining the concept of internet portal. He talked of meshing the content mission of News Corp. with the core web value of “personal choice.” He listed a internet tools and services both coming with acquisitions and internal development, adding that “users will be able to personalize their experience to take advantage of the vastness of the internet as a whole.”

Intermix/ Murdoch cited a figure I heard the other day, that MySpace sign-ups are up to 100,000 a day. He spoke of the company as though it already was part of FIM but it’s not slated to close until the fourth quarter of calendar 2005. Combining Scout and Intermix with current Fox properties would give FIM close to 50 million uniques a month from 16 million, placing News Corp. in what Murdoch describes as the “top tier.”