WSJ: News Corp. Wants To Split Company In Two

By Alex Weprin 

The Wall Street Journal (which, we should note is owned by News Corp.) reports that News Corp. is considering splitting itself in two. All of the company’s publishing assets, including its newspapers and HarperCollins book publishers, would be one company, with the company’s entertainment and TV assets like 20th Century Fox and Fox News Channel part of the other company.

A split of News Corp.’s businesses would be welcomed by outside investors who are more interested in News Corp.’s television and film assets than its slow-growing publishing businesses. The entertainment assets make up by far the bulk of the company, contributing three-quarters of the $25.34 billion in revenue for the first nine months of the fiscal year. Those assets accounted for roughly 90% of the operating profit in that period.

A split would be similar to what Viacom did in 2006, splitting CBS and Showtime into one company, and MTV Networks into another. Billionaire media mogul Sumner Redstone still controls both companies, so Rupert Murdoch and the Murdoch family would likely retain similar control over the new companies.

Splitting the newspaper assets may also alleviate some of the problems caused by the phone-hacking scandal. By having the affected outlets part of a separate company, the money-making entertainment properties have less to fear if the scandal grows.