News Corp results reveal £55m cost of hacking probe

Ongoing investigations surrounding the closure of the News of the World cost News Corporation £55m in the final three months of last year, the media giant has revealed.

The owner of the now defunct Sunday tabloid, which was shut down last summer in the wake of the phone hacking scandal, disclosed the cost in its latest set of financial results.

Executives said about 85 per cent of the charge represented legal and consulting fees with the remainder going towards out-of-court settlements.

News Corp has settled with 54 phone hacking victims so far, but the ongoing police investigations and legal proceedings are expected to keep the company’s legal bills high in the near future.

The company paid out £57m between July and September last year due to the scandal.

Rupert Murdoch’s global empire also saw a 43 per cent decrease in publishing income in the three months to the end of December 2011 compared to the same period in 2010.

It said the £102m drop, which saw operating income plummet from £240m to £138m, was partly down to the closure of the NotW – Britain’s biggest selling weekly newspaper that shifted around three million copies every Sunday.

The company also blamed lower advertising revenues at its Australian newspapers for the slump.

Overall, News Corp said net income stood at 1.06bn US dollars (£888m) at the end of the quarter, up from $624m (£395m) in 2010. The rise was fuelled mainly by income from advertising and fees at its cable television networks, it said.

Chairman and chief executive Rupert Murdoch said: “The significant growth we reported in the quarter in the cable network programming, television and filmed entertainment segments clearly validates our strategy to develop and distribute superior wide-ranging content.”

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