The Wall Street Journal — a key arm of the Rupert Murdoch media empire — is reporting that their boss is seriously considering splitting that empire's entertainment and publishing divisions into two separate companies. According to the paper, such a move has been thrown about for years inside the company, but that Murdoch has recently "warmed" to the idea, in part to isolate his profitable movie and TV businesses from the scandals that have plagued the struggling newspaper side.
While the move would signal a major sea change for the Murdoch family and his business, it would mostly be a financial maneuver meant to win over shareholders who are no longer interested in the struggling business of publishing. Murdoch would maintain control of both companies and would likely continue to invest heavily in his beloved newspaper industry, while outside investors could concentrate on the more profitable entertainment arm. In the last nine months, News Corp had an operating profit of $4.2 billion, but only about $450 million of that came from the publishing division.
News Corp's entertainment assets include Twentieth Century Fox studios, the Fox broadcast network, numerous cable channels, and the BSkyB satellite network in Britain. (Fox News would be included with the entertainment companies.) The publishing arm is built around the flagship newspapers The Wall Street Journal and The Times of London, the popular tabloids the New York Post and The Sun, dozens of other newspapers in Australia and other countries, and the HarperCollins book publishing family.