21st Century Fox earnings lifted to $567 million by news and hit shows

Revenues rose seven percent from a year ago in the quarter to June 30 to $6.6 billion for the group that includes the Fox Hollywood studios

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21st Century Fox profits jumped in the past quarter, as strong news channel viewership and hit TV shows offset weakness from its Hollywood films, the Murdoch family-owned group said Wednesday.

Net profit in the quarter to June 30 rose to $567 million from $87 million a year earlier, lifted by higher broadcast and cable advertising revenues.

Revenues rose seven percent from a year ago in the quarter to June 30 to $6.6 billion for the group that includes the Fox Hollywood studios and an array of television operations.

The company said cable earnings were helped by high ratings at Fox News Channel during the presidential campaign season and at its sports channels. Advertising revenue for these domestic operations rose nine percent.

On the broadcast television front, the company benefited from big hits at its production unit, Twentieth Century Fox Television, which made three of the season’s top four broadcast series: “Empire,” “The X-Files” and “Modern Family.”

“We delivered full-year revenue and earnings growth on the strength of gains in affiliate and advertising revenues despite considerable foreign-exchange headwinds and difficult film comparisons,” said a statement from co-executive chairmen Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch.

“The value created by our multiyear investment in our content production and our global video brands is clear.”

The group closed out its fiscal year with profit of $6.5 billion on revenues of $15 billion.

Rupert Murdoch, 85, last year moved to step away from key management of his media-entertainment empire as he appointed his sons Lachlan and James to top posts.

But Rupert Murdoch returned as acting chief executive at Fox News after his longtime ally Roger Ailes quit last month after being hit by a sexual harassment lawsuit.

Despite the controversy at Fox, the news channel “was the highest-rated basic cable channel over the last 12 months and achieved its highest level of total day viewership in the network's history,” a company statement said.

The picture at Fox’s Hollywood operations was less rosy, with an 11 percent drop in revenue amid a lack of any blockbuster hits in the past three months.

“It’s clear we have work to do at the film studio,” said James Murdoch, who added that some of the releases “did not meet expectations.”

But he noted that in a creative field such as cinema, “it's going to be tough to judge the film studio in any one quarter.”

The media-entertainment empire built by Rupert Murdoch includes 21st Century Fox and News Corp., which includes the Wall Street Journal and other global newspapers.

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