NYC Media Summit: Murdoch Says Digital Is the Driver

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Rupert Murdoch offered ambitious plans to grow News Corp.’s digital properties in a freewheeling keynote at Media Summit in New York this morning. Acknowledging that those businesses—among them MySpace and IGN—now represent about 1% of News Corp. revenue, he said that number should grow to 10% in three to five years. “It’s certainly the biggest profit driver we have,” the News Corp. chairman said.

He singled out MySpace’s growth overseas, in nations like France and Australia, and touted gamer site IGN’s recent growth. “[IGN’s] page views in the last quarter are up well over 100% on the year before,” he said.

 Murdoch also shed light on the Fox business channel that's to launch this fall.  He said it would be more business-focused than CNBC, more upbeat, and less interested in salacious stories. “They leap into every scandal,” he said. “There’s an atmosphere to [CNBC] that’s negative.”

Murdoch couldn’t pass up on another opportunity to take a poke at CNBC. Saying he was keeping his cards close to his vest regarding the channel’s programming, he added, “Everything we do, CNBC immediately will copy.”

With News Corp.’s quarterly earnings down 24%, Murdoch gave perspective on the problems with MyNetworkTV and its underperforming telenovelas. “Maybe it’s not good enough or daring enough, but it hasn’t worked,” he said. He mentioned how the new netlet’s UPN predecessor was largely male and minority, and the difficult transition to a female-friendly format.

Regarding growing his TV empire worldwide, Murdoch cited Poland, Indonesia and India as having the largest potential, and said the business barriers in China are, for the moment, too great.

The conversation shifted to politics, where Murdoch defended the right-leaning stance of the New York Post and Fox News Channel, but said he welcomed more forceful liberal voices on the latter. When interviewer Steve Adler, editor-in-chief of Business Week, said he didn’t have a clear picture of how Murdoch regarded Hillary Clinton, Murdoch shot back, “Nor do I.” After a few perfunctory compliments for Mrs. Clinton, he plugged Newt Gingrich and Michael Bloomberg as having presidential mettle.

The conversation inevitably wound down to the succession issue, and Murdoch made his case for immortality. “I just want to live forever,” he said. “I’m enjoying myself far too much.”