Biz Briefs

Aug 18, 2003  •  Post A Comment

News Corp. is making significant progress in its quest to win regulatory approval for its $6.6 billion acquisition of DirecTV parent Hughes Electronics and could complete the deal by the end of the year, Chairman Rupert Murdoch said last week. Meanwhile, Co-Chief Operating Officer Lachlan Murdoch said the company is unhappy with the performance of its UPN stations, though they remain profitable. The comments came as the Australian-based media giant swung to a fiscal fourth-quarter profit of $370 million vs. a year-earlier loss of $1.7 billion, and a full-year profit of $1 billion compared with year-ago red ink of $6.3 billion. Revenue surged 20 percent in the quarter to $4.6 billion and 15 percent to $17.5 billion for the year.
Liberty Media Reports Narrowed Loss
Liberty Media last week reported a narrowed second-quarter loss of $464 million, or 17 cents a share, compared with year-earlier red ink of $3.1 billion, or $1.20 a share. Revenue fell to $500 million from $510 million in the 2002 quarter. The company recorded an operating loss of $46 million compared with operating income of $13 million a year ago. The company saw revenue declines at several of its wholly owned properties, including Starz! Encore Group, which posted a 5 percent drop largely due to the contract dispute Liberty is involved in with Comcast over programming fees. Those declines were partially offset by gains at Discovery Communications and QVC, in which Liberty owned 50 percent and 42 percent stakes, respectively, at the end of the quarter. Liberty has since acquired all of QVC.
AOL Time Warner Considers Name Change
AOL Time Warner, the media titan that has been rocked by accounting scandals and declining subscriptions at its America Online unit, is considering dropping the “AOL” from its name and could make a decision on the name change at its September board meeting. A spokeswoman for the media giant said the idea for the name change came from America Online CEO Jonathan Miller, who believes that having the AOL name in the parent company’s name is confusing for subscribers to the online service. However, there are no plans to spin off the online unit, the spokeswoman said.