UPDATE: Murdoch Says Online Pay Model Coming in Next Two Months

By: Jennifer Saba

News Corp. will be announcing within two months its model for charging for the online content of the New York Post, Times of London and all its othe newspapers, Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch suggests.

“We’re looking at various alternatives and I don’t think we are ready to announce yet,” Murdoch said in answer to a question during Tuesday’s earnings report conference call. “Although we will be, we won’t be ready yet to make an announcement but we will be, we’re in the midst of a lot of talks with a lot of people, that are coming to ahead, and I think you’ll hear a lot more from us over the next two months.”

In the transcript of the call posted on the Seeking Alpha Web site, Murdoch remained as outspoken as ever on what he says is the need to charge for online newspaper content.

A reporter asked Murdoch if he had read a lecture by Alan Rusbridger in which he argues that “newspapers are sleep walking into oblivion if they feel that they can buck an irreversible trend of media of content becoming free.”

“I think that sounds like B.S. to me,” Murdoch replies.

“So you think that free content strategy is not going to work?” the reporter Andrew Clark from The Guardian in Manchester, England, asked.

“Yeah, next question please,” Murdoch said.

In prepared remarks, Murdoch refered to The Wall Street Journal as “America’s number one newspaper, number one in terms of circulation, influence and quality. While other prominent papers are still suffering year-on-year advertising and circulation declines, the opposite is true at the Journal. WSJ.com remains the digital model for newspapers around the world, with a strong subscription base and still growing advertising revenue.”

News Corp. announced this afternoon that operating results at Dow Jones increased due to strength at The Wall Street Journal during the company’s fiscal second quarter ending Dec. 31, 2009. Print advertising revenue at WSJ grew 5% compared to the same quarter last year, while advertising revenue at the Wall Street Journal Digital Network jumped 17%.

The company also said it recorded circulation revenue growth at Dow Jones during the period.

Overall the company swung to a profit with $254 million in net income or 10 cents per share compared with a net loss of $6.4 billion — due to an impairment charge — during Q2 a year ago. This quarter, New Corp. took a one-time charge of $500 million due to a settlement agreement between the company’s News America Marketing and Valassis.

Excluding the charges, adjusted EPS for Q2 was 25 cents compared to 15 cents in Q2 of last year.

“Our strong top-line revenue growth demonstrates that News Corp. is emerging from this recession with renewed vigor and strength,” Rupert Murdoch, Chairman and CEO of News Corp., said in a statement. “Moreover, our underlying operating trends this quarter far outpace those of the same quarter last year. We continue to reap the benefits from the restructuring and cost containment measures we instituted before the downturn began and I’m pleased that our unrelenting focus has translated to growth across our businesses that will reward stockholders for years to come.”

At the Newspapers and Information Services segment, the company reported operating income of $259 million compared to $200 million for the same quarter a year ago.

News Corp.’s Integrated Marketing Services segment reported a Q2 loss of $414 million compared to a gain of $86 million in Q2 compared to the same period a year ago. The loss reflects the $500 million settlement charge.

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