News Corp Hit Hard By Scandal-related Losses
Just how severe the damage that the telephone-hacking scandal has been to News Corp's bottom line appeared evident Wednesday when the company reported a loss of $1.6 billion in the last quarter, largely due to writing off $2.8 billion in charges that it expects to incur in spinning off its newspaper and other publishing businesses. The media conglomerate said that its legal costs related to the scandal have risen to $224 million. Those costs are expected to rise exponentially in the coming months as dozens of News Corp personnel go on trial on charges relating to the telephone hacking scandal, which is likely to spread to the United States where Justice Department officials are said to be looking into filing charges under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and where the FCC may weigh in on the fitness of the company to continue to hold television licenses. The company's earnings were also weighed down by declining income at the Fox TV Network, which has seen ratings slide for its previous hits, including the No. 1 entertainment show, American Idol . At the same time, the company also reported significant declines at its 20th Century Fox film studio, which, during the quarter, was spending heavily to promote two summer blockbusters, Ridley Scott's Prometheus and the animated Ice Age Continental Drift. (Both films were released in July, the first month of the current quarter.) Only its cable networks, led by Fox News Channel, FX, and the National Geographic Channel, reported significant gains, generating $792 million in operating income, up 26 percent from $631 million during the same period a year ago. But writing for Jim Cramer's TheStreet.com, financial commentator Marek Fuchs observed that even that sector of News Corp's business faces a struggle as its viewers "are starting to cut the cable cord."