Corp. used its third quarter investor call as a platform to
continue its attack on the two dominant tech platforms whose
outsized influence and practices are having a “deleterious effect”
Executive Robert Thomson expressed concern about the opaque
role of algorithms, the secret, behind-the-scenes calculations
that determine what information consumers see. He called for
the creation of an Algorithm Review Board to monitor for abuse.
algorithms are already potent, but they are destined to be much
more formidable, and their abundant potential to skew news and
skewer customers needs to be better understood and monitored,”
Thomson said. “And an Algorithm Review Board, or ARB, would be
particularly useful in the oversight of companies, which have
horizontal dominance, and use that leverage to dominate a
vertical, such as Amazon with audiobooks and, potentially,
Facebook with dating.”
Corp. has been sparring with Silicon Valley’s tech giants,
arguing they exert a choke-hold over news organizations. Just last
week, the company filed a complaint with an Australian regulator
claiming Google, Facebook and Apple are engaging in
anti-competitive practices that are damaging journalism.
its complaint, News Corp. said Facebook and Google directly
influence three-quarters of internet traffic and exert “a strong
influence on how readers access and engage with News Corp.
Australia’s content.” That’s where the news organization first
floated the idea of an algorithm review board.
the U.S., Murdoch has
floated the idea of Facebook and Google paying a
cable-TV like carriage fee to legitimate news providers.
the investor call, Thomson applauded Google for replacing its
“first click free” policy, which required publishers to offer
three free articles a day before readers would encounter a pay
wall. He thanked Google CEO Sundar Pichai helping end a practice
that he said punished high-quality journalism.
is, however, just a first step on the pathway to provenance,”
said News Corp. and other publishers have been in discussions with
Facebook about the importance role of trusted news organizations
in an environment that’s been polluted by fake news and
ill-informed, malicious gossip. The world’s dominant social
network at least talks a good game, he said, professing “concern
about virtue and veracity.”
are confident that a renewed focus on provenance and on
integrity will benefit our mastheads, our journalism and our
advertising clients, who are learning more each day about the
potential dangers of digital,” Thomson said. “Challenging these
dominant digital platforms is important for our businesses, but
also meaningful for the societies in which we operate.”
Corp. said costs associated with Australian pay TV giant
Foxtel’s merger with Fox Sports Australia dragged News Corp.’s
earnings into the red in its third quarter.
company said it wrote own about $1 billion in connection with the
deal, which Thomson said would position the company in the rapidly
expanding streaming business market, with sports offerings and
premium entertainment and news content.
resulted in a net loss of $1.94 a share or $1.1 billion in the
for this one-time expense, News Corp. reported per-share earnings
of 6 cents, meeting the consensus estimate of analysts surveyed by
Thomson Reuters. News Corp. brought in $2.1 billion in revenue for
its March quarter, up 6% from a year ago and besting forecasts of
touted growth in News Corp.’s non news businesses, its digital
real estate services and book publishing. Growth there helped
offset by declines in print advertising and lower revenues from
its North American news operations.
with the fourth quarter, the combination of the digital real
estate services and cable TV businesses is expected to account
for significantly more than half of our profits,” Thomson said.
“The Foxtel-Fox Sports Australia consolidation is also expected
to make circulation and subscription revenues the biggest
revenue stream for News Corp for the first time. This should
give us more protection against the vicissitudes of a volatile
and Information services reported revenue of nearly $1.3 billion
in the quarter, up 2% from a year earlier, thanks to gains in News
UK and at Dow Jones. The company reported circulation and
subscription revenue gains –and strong digital subscriber growth
these gains, the news segment reported earnings of $85 million, a
drop 31% from a year ago — primarily due to higher expenses in the
publishing revenues of $398 million in the quarter, up 6% from a
year earlier, thanks to higher sales in general and Christian
publishing. News Corp. singled out such titles as The
Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn and The
Rock, the Road, and the Rabbi by Kathie
real estate revenues in the quarter increased to $279 million,
up 27% compared to the prior year, primarily due to the
continued strong growth at REA Group, a digital advertising
company that operates Australia’s leading property websites.
company, founded by media mogul Rupert Murdoch, holds such major
media assets as The Wall Street Journal, The Times of London and
Dow Jones and publisher Harper Collins.