Aussie papers offset News’ flagging British assets

NEWS Corp’s Australian papers are punching above their weight within the global media giant’s international news stable, making up for weakness in their British counterparts.

Third quarter results show increased contributions from papers like The Daily Telegraph helped offset lower earnings from the group’s British papers.

John Hartigan, chief executive of News Ltd, the Australian arm of Rupert Murdoch’s company, attributed the performance to the quality and range of its media assets.

“It’s a difficult environment, but we have got great assets here, and great people,” Mr Hartigan said.

Asked what was driving the performance, he said: “I think it’s managing costs, at the same time when there is pressure on revenues; and maximising your advertising online”.

Announcing the results in New York yesterday, News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch said advertising markets in Australia and Britain were “level to up fractionally”, and the company was increasing its share of the market.

“It is difficult and we have very good market positions in terms of relative circulations and quality of those circulations ... and (we’re) certainly increasing our share of the market,” he said.

The newspaper division posted a small increase in earnings to $US156 million ($A188.76 million), up from $US153 million ($A185.13 million) the year before.

Mr Murdoch said News Corp sold its 7.5 per cent stake in rival Fairfax Media this week because it believed the owner of the The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Border Mail no longer needed its protection from possible predators.

Fairfax formally merged with regional newspaper publisher Rural Press on Wednesday, creating a $9 billion print and digital media giant.

“So we’ve just moved on. And we’ve taken our money back, plus a little bit of foreign exchange profit,” Mr Murdoch said.

But the sale “had nothing to do” with the company’s future intentions in Australia, he said.

This story Aussie papers offset News’ flagging British assets first appeared on The Border Mail.