News Corp said today (Thursday) that its first-quarter earnings plunged 30percent to $515 million from $732 million during the same period a year ago.It blamed cutbacks in local advertising at its owned stations, particularlyreductions in automotive, telecommunications and movie ad sales. "It's apretty grim picture for all local television stations across the country,"News Corp Chairman Rupert Murdoch told analysts during a telephoneconference. The 20th Century Fox film studio did not escape the overallnosedive, due to the disappointing ticket sales for such films as MeetDave and The X-Files I Want to Believe . Likewise sales of DVDsdistributed by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment took a beating. Altogether, filmed entertainment plunged 31 percent. One area thatbrightened the company's financial picture was Fox News Channel, whichreported a 30-percent rise in operating profit from the year-ago period.Murdoch also indicated that the outlook for 2009 was also bleak. Afterforecasting in August a 6-percent rise in profit for its fiscal year endingJune 30, the company said today that its profit would likely drop by apercentage in the low-to-mid teens. Shares in News Corp were down more than16 percent in late-afternoon trading.

06/11/2008