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'Star Wars,' U.S. TV Help News Corp. Earnings Soar

May 08, 1997|From Reuters

NEW YORK — Media giant News Corp. said Wednesday that its earnings rose sharply in the latest quarter, helped by its U.S. television operations and a strong performance by the "Star Wars" trilogy in its cinema reprise.

News Corp., which is led by Rupert Murdoch, said in a statement released in New York that its profit after one-time items for its third quarter ended March 31 rose to $256 million from $59 million a year earlier.

Revenue rose 27% to $2.9 billion.

"These results reflect strong double-digit earnings increases at all of the company's core operating segments, with the exception of book publishing," the company said in a statement.

It said its U.S. filmed entertainment unit put in a strong showing with operating profit up 36%, helped by the "Star Wars" movies.

"Since being released at the end of January, 'Star Wars' has generated $138 million at the domestic box office, with the two sequels adding an additional $111 million to date," News Corp. said.

U.S. television operating profit was up 55%, reflecting strong Fox Broadcasting Co. results. Fox benefited from its first-time broadcast of the Super Bowl football championship game.

Fox's regular TV shows include the cartoon series "The Simpsons" and the science-fiction show "The X-Files."

In addition to the Fox television network, News Corp.'s U.S. holdings include the New York Post, HarperCollins book publishing and 20th Century Fox film studios.

News Corp. said its British newspaper operations again reported strong results with third-quarter operating profit up 47%. The company's British papers include the Times and the Sunday Times. Operating results at its Australian newspaper division were slightly ahead for the quarter.

The company said income from its associated companies rose 34%, helped by expansion at British satellite TV company BSkyB. It also cited an improved performance of Ansett Airlines, which News Corp. owns jointly with Air New Zealand.

BSkyB said in London on Wednesday that its pretax profit rose 15% to $133 million in its third quarter ended March 31, from $116 million a year earlier.

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