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Media mogul Rupert Murdoch

CARLO ALLEGRI/REUTERS

News Corp. reported higher quarterly revenue and profit on Wednesday on strong growth at its cable networks.

The media conglomerate, controlled by Rupert Murdoch, said revenue rose 5 per cent to $9.43-billion (U.S.) for the quarter that ended in December. Analysts were expecting revenue of $9.28-billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

News Corp.'s global media empire includes Fox Broadcasting, The Wall Street Journal and the film studio Twentieth Century Fox.

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Net income was $2.38-billion, or $1.01 per share, compared with $1.06-billion, or 42 cents per share, in the same period a year ago.

Excluding special items including costs related to the phone hacking scandal in the U.K., earnings per share was 44 cents, ahead of analysts' estimates by a penny.

At its cable network, operating income increased 7 per cent to $945-million. Advertising revenue at its domestic cable channels rose 8 per cent.

The division that operates the company's newspapers and book publishing reported operating income rose to $234-million from $218-million in the same period a year ago. News Corp. cited the launch of the Sunday edition of its British tabloid The Sun that helped offset lower advertising revenues at its Australian newspapers.

News Corp. is preparing to separate its faster growing entertainment assets from its newspapers, a move that has been greeted with enthusiasm from investors who have driven up the stock almost 50 per cent year over year.

The new publishing company, which will retain the name News Corp., will operate newspapers like The Wall Street Journal, The Times of London, The Australian and book publisher HarperCollins.

The publishing company has named several key executives including Robert Thomson, a Murdoch confidant and the former top editor at The Wall Street Journal, as its chief executive officer. But key questions remain about the structure of it balance sheet, board members and how the company will overcome severe challenges racking the newspaper industry.

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