News Corp gets religion site

Murdoch Gets Religion! That’s how many American papers headlined the report that News Corp has acquired Beliefnet, the largest faith- and spiritually-oriented information site on the web.

Next to entertainment news, religion is one of the biggest topics in the US these days. More than 82 million Americans and 64 per cent of all Internet users utilize the Web for faith-related topics.

Beliefnet, which was started in 1999, has about 3 million visitors a month and puts out a daily e-mail newsletter that reaches nearly 11 million subscribers.

The organization is not affiliated with any spiritual organization or movement, although it has partnered with Time magazine, Yahoo! and an organisation called Chicken Soup for the Soul.

Beliefnet, according to a statement from News Corp, will become part of the Fox Entertainment Group – although the main purpose of the site is to encourage and better understand the diverse spiritual communities. It has won awards and commendations for its respect and unbiased approach to faith and spirituality. This year it won the National Magazine Award for General Excellence On-Line.

Fox’s resources will enable Beliefnet to expand its audience, and help people find and walk a spiritual path that brings comfort, hope, strength and happiness, said Steven Waldman, editor in chief and cofounder of the site.

Financial details of the deal have not been disclosed, but the return is promising. The demand for faith-related material such as books, DVDs, and software in the US was recently put at well over eight billion dollars.

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