It is also considered among the global market’s blue chip stocks.
NWS thus has a wide range of household name services and assets under its belt, including Fox Filmed Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox Television, Fox Sports, book publisher Harper Collins, the New York Post in the US, web services Photobucket and MySpace, and Dow Jones.
The news giant has made headlines lately following its $12.48 billion bid for pay television operator British Sky Broadcasting Group.
It is also embroiled in a British media scandal following some phone hacking allegations.
NWS continues to suffer from declining earnings and the negative impact of a stronger Aussie dollar.
NWS has been experiencing heightened scrutiny amid phone hacking allegations. Pressure on the company has escalated to a political level and some lawmakers are now demanding the deal be blocked.
Allegations of phone hacking and illegal payments at News of the World, one of NWS’s British newspapers, resulted in the paper being shut down.
NWS feels its proposed acquisition will not lead to there being insufficient plurality in news provision in the U.K.
The matter has now been referred to the Competition Commission with immediate effect after the US company withdrew undertakings to satisfy antitrust requirements.
The undertakings included spinning off BSkyB’s 24 hour news channel, Sky News, to alleviate concerns over the extent of its influence in the U.K. media landscape.
A decision could take up to 32 weeks but with the current allegations, the matter might be dragged even longer.
Fresh allegations have also seen another one of NWS’s British newspapers, The Sun, come under fire.
Monetising the net
NWS recently announced it will start charging for access to the online version of The Australian newspaper.
Limited content will be available to the public, with full access costing $2.95 a week.
This follows the model News Corp introduced after it purchased the famed Wall Street Journal in 2007.
News Corporation and fellow media giant Fairfax have introduced high quality online versions of their flagship newspapers in the last decade and if the paid access model works with The Australian, it is expected other key newspaper sites across the stables will start charging for their content.
Earnings not newsworthy
In May, NWS advised that third quarter net profit fell 24% from a year earlier to $639 million.
Net income was $639 million (24 cents a share), down from $839 million (32 cents a share) on year.
The result came on the back of a 6% decrease in revenue to $8.26 billion, which NWS attributed to weakness in its filmed entertainment and publishing divisions.
Weighing on the results was a $125 million charge in its publishing division stemming from a legal settlement and declines in the media company’s movie and newspapers businesses.
However, the cable division was a bright spot, with operating earnings rising 25% on-year amid stronger advertising revenue.
The poor profit result, which missed analyst estimates, saw NWS shares drop 3.4% on the day.
NWS seems to be in a world of trouble at the moment following the phone hacking scandal. It is also being considered among the shares to sell, and has recently been a major underperformer in the Australian stock market.
The company is already facing a loss of revenue through the shutting down of its News of the World newspaper.
Current fears are that the scandal will spread to its other newspapers along with a public and political backlash.
In a world where media is already a tough industry, the last thing NWS needs is a bad reputation.
NWS is currently working on introducing charges to online newspaper access. The latest scandal certainly does not help its cause.
With the proposed BSkyB acquisition in limbo, a deepening scandal and declining earnings, we feel NWS will remain under significant pressure.
A strong Aussie dollar will also add to the company’s demise as its US dollar earnings convert to less AUD.