News Corp. Plans to Sell Ottaway Newspapers

By: Jennifer Saba News Corp.'s Rupert Murdoch said today that he plans to divest Dow Jones' Ottaway newspaper group. The news came during the company's fiscal 4Q conference call with financial analysts and press this afternoon.

"We will be selling the local newspapers fairly quickly," Murdoch responded when asked by an analyst. "Outside of that, we are keeping everything and developing it."

Murdoch says the company also expects to save approximately $50 million by trimming some corporate functions at Dow Jones. When asked if other cuts across Dow Jones was in the pipeline, Murdoch said, "We are going to be in a hiring mode almost immediately."

News Corp. plans to invest and expand Dow Jones across Europe and Asia in addition to more coverage of national and international general news to compete with The New York Times.

"One of the big reasons we are excited" about the Dow Jones acquisition "is the immediate lift it will give our entire company as we continue our digital transition," Murdoch said.

News Corp. and Dow Jones executives are looking carefully whether to drop the subscription fee associated with access to some material. Murdoch said that in the short term it will be expensive to lose that revenue but in the long term it "may be a wonderful thing to do, we are looking at it closely."

The company is confident the launch of its business channel in October should be successful despite the fact The Wall Street Journal is still locked into a five-year contract with CNBC. News Corp. has no plans to negotiate a possible buyout of the CNBC contract.

Murdoch did not cite specifics about how he planned to integrate Dow Jones into the company or future plans during this call. "As we get deeper into the Dow Jones business," he said, "we will have much more to say."


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