News Corp split expected by Thursday

Board meeting today will decide the fate of the company.

News Corp. split would protect the entertainment division from the newspapers' phone hacking liabilities. Photo: Getty Images

News Corportion is set to make a final decision on whether to split its assets by Thursday 28 July, the Huffington Post reported, following its Tuesday morning announcement that it was considering such a move. With the decision looming, many in the media are beginning to assess what an asset split would mean for News Corp., for its companies and for Murdoch himself.

By separating the print division from the entertainment division of the company, the disparity of profits coming from the two will become even clearer. The News Corp. publishing division currently received revenue of $8.8bn, with a profit of $864m. With assets such as the Wall Street Journal and News International, publisher of the Sun, Times and Sunday Times, as well as the publisher HarperCollins, this profit is impressive.

It is, however, dwarfed by profits from the cable network programming operation. Katherine Rushton for the Telegraph reports that this division of the company matches the revenues of the publishing division at $8bn in 2011, but is significantly more profitable, with an operating profit of $2.8bn.

When grouped together with other film and TV businesses owned by News Corp., this could increase to a profit of $4.6bn. Further, the recent bid by News Corp. to increase their stake of the Australian pay-tv channel Foxtel to 50 per cent could see these profits soar even further.

Robert Peston, the BBC's business editor, argued that this is a necessary step for Murdoch “to protect its more profitable television operations, from its UK newspaper businesses currently embroiled in the phone-hacking scandal.”

The impact of this will be felt positively by the entertainment division of the company, claims Michael Wolff, for the Guardian: “Rupert and the other Murdochs will have an ever-deepening quagmire to attend to with the newspapers, keeping the Murdochs at an even greater distance from the entertainment business.”

The split of the two companies has been anticipated as the end of the News Corp. empire. Michael Wolff argued that the split was a sign to Murdoch that “His company seems to be spurning his newspapers, and also his leadership – or at least, his Sun God standing”

The split between the companies would be the end of a historically large and diverse media company however with the Murdochs maintaining control of both companies with 40 per cent of voting shares, it would not mark the end of the Murdochs' dominance of the companies.