Murdoch Won’t Battle Microsoft for Yahoo!

NEW YORK News Corp. chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch said Monday that he won’t battle Microsoft for Yahoo! and reiterated his confidence about his conglomerate’s position in a possible U.S. recession, even though he said its TV stations are running about 5 percent behind its original targets.

“Some deal (with Yahoo!) would have been nice, but it’s probably not possible,” Murdoch said at the Bear Stearns 21st annual Media Conference in Palm Beach, Fla., in a Monday morning appearance that was available via Webcast.

He also said, “We’re not going to get into a fight with Microsoft,” which has been looking to buy Yahoo!. “They’ve got a lot more money than us.”

Added Murdoch: “We’re very happy to be in the Google camp.” News Corp.’s social network MySpace has a Web search deal with Google.

Murdoch on Monday morning also shrugged off investor concerns about a possible recession or economic slowdown in the U.S. and possibly other parts of the world.

“We have reduced our dependence on advertising from 41 percent of revenues to 23 percent,” he said when asked about News Corp.’s recession risk. “The way to keep advertising is to be No. 1 in all we do.”

TV station revenue so far this fiscal year is “about 5 percent behind what we hoped for,” with some markets up and others down, Murdoch said. But Fox spot advertising is selling up to 40 percent above upfront prices, while rivals have no ad inventory to sell because of make goods, the CEO argued. “The rest goes to cable networks,” which are all doing better, he said.

Overall, Murdoch argued, “we’re really in very good shape” in case of a U.S. recession.