Fox trots — for now. The Murdoch clan just loves this time of the US election cycle — and it just loves long, long campaigns by ambitious, rambunctious wannabee political aspirants, such as Donald Trump, who has turned out to be the clan’s most valuable asset, and will continue giving over the next three quarters (of course, it will make for a heck of a hangover in 2017 when the election cycle goes to sleep and Fox News revenue and earnings soften).
The March quarter figures for 21st Century Fox confirm once again that 21st Century Fox — the centrepiece in the clan’s global media empire — is a cable news business leading free-to-air TV, cable TV and film studio and associated production operations. The quarterly figures show clearly that it was the combination of Trump, Megyn Kelly (the Fox News anchor who became Trump’s sparring partner), higher subscription fees and the surge in political advertising that produced a very solid overall result for Fox. A solid rebound from its film studio also helped.
Fox reported a net profit of US$841 million, down from US$975 million a year earlier. Net income from continuing operations attributable to shareholders was US$844 million, down from US$990 million in the March quarter of 2015. Revenues for the quarter rose 6% from the March quarter of 2015 to US$7.23 billion, while operating income before depreciation and amortisation rose 12% to US$1.88 billion.
The strength of the US dollar in the quarter (it has since faded in April and May) cost Fox an estimated US$204 million off revenues, or 3% of the total. Fox shares jumped more than 6% in after-hours trading, but they then turned down, ending around half a per cent lower. Up to the close on Wednesday, the shares had fallen more than 20% since the start of the year. The other Murdoch company, News Corp, released its quarterly figures tomorrow morning, Sydney time. — Glenn Dyer
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Girls talk. Lena Dunham’s new “Lenny Letter”, a biweekly newsletter aimed at young women, has audience figures to make just about everyone in old media green with envy. According to NiemanLab, the TV writer and actress is getting some serious attention for the letter, which covers politics and feminism:
“Lenny Letter is supported by an ad partnership with Hearst, and Hearst promotes the product across the websites of its magazines like Cosmopolitan and Hearst.
“This mix has helped Lenny Letter reach more than 400,000 subscribers, and the newsletter has a covetable 65 percent open rate.”
Still in the dead-tree business. Tribune Co said “go away” to Gannett this morning in the US after the latter lobbed an unasked-for US$815 million bid last week. It is not going to be enough, with talk some of Tribune’s major shareholders want the money. In London, shareholders in Trinity Mirror, one of the UK’s major print publishers, meet tonight as they eye a sharp slide in the share price in the past year. Trinity is under pressure from a series of unexpected phone-hacking charges against the Mirror, the stumbling start to the new cheap Monday-to-Friday paper called The New Day, an expensive purchase of regional papers, and falling print ad revenues and weak digital income.
The shares are at their lowest since August 2013 and are down 40% in the past year. Still, the shares are not as low as they were under former CEO Sly Bailey. When she quit in 2012, the shares were trading at 40p. Simon Fox took over and the shares soared to 230p in the next three years, so the close overnight at 113.50p is a big, big slide. Unlike the Tribune, which is a loss maker, Trinity Mirror is making December profits (around 1 million pounds a year, much of it from non-print sources). — Glenn Dyer
Video of the day. He’s upset, sure, but Bolt’s not just having a whinge (well, “maybe a bit”).
Front page of the day. Ashes to ashes …