Fox News Helps Drive News Corp. Earnings

By Alex Weprin 

This afternoon News Corp. presented its fourth quarter earnings, with CEO Rupert Murdoch, COO Chase Carey and CFO Dave DeVoe taking questions from the financial community and reporters.

Fox News, along with the company’s regional sports networks and international cable channels drove much of the growth, with DeVoe saying that the company’s cable business now accounts for more than 50% of its total revenue.

Cable revenue was $563 million for the quarter, up $134 million compared to the fourth quarter last year.

On the earnings call Carey called FNC “a true juggernaut,” adding that the network was preparing to enter into a new round of negotiations with carriers.

In June Goldman Sachs said that FNC may get $1.25 per sub from some carriers in 2010. On the call Murdoch seemed to toss cold water onto that prediction, arguing that the negotiations and deals are a multi-year process, but that when it is all said and done they expect higher carriage fees for FNC.

According to SNL Kagan FNC drew an annual monthly carriage fee of $0.58 in 2009.

Murdoch was also asked if last year’s boycott of Glenn Beck had any affect on the news network’s earnings.

The News Corp. CEO laughed and responded with a quick “no.”

“They’re not boycotting watching it because it’s getting incredible numbers,” he said. “We have not lost any business at all, some [advertisers] may have moved to other programs,” but “it has not affected the total revenues or the profits.”