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May 5, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Avatar has proved to be as valuable for Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp as those fictional Pandoran minerals appear to be in the movie. Third-quarter revenue from the movie (which opened in the previous quarter) helped push operating profit for the company’s film unit to $497 million, up 76 percent from $282 million during the same quarter a year ago. The film has now earned more than $2.7 billion worldwide. The quarter also saw solid revenue results for News Corp’s Fox Television network, its Fox News cable network and — even for its newspaper business. As Murdoch put it during a conference call, “Content is driving our outstanding performance, from the history-making film Avatar to the unstoppable Fox News.” But even Murdoch seemed surprised by results for his newspapers, which include the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, the London Times and Sunday Times, the tabloids News of the World and the London Sun. “There have been many weeks when the London Sun has had all-time records in revenue,” he noted. “I’ve got to tell you, I’m surprised, but it’s very welcome.” News Corp’s print and broadcast operations were helped substantially by the return of advertisers who had taken to the sidelines as the recession deepened. And Murdoch said that he was “pretty optimistic” that budgets from big advertisers seem about ready to expand. “Whether it’ll be the first fiscal quarter or the second, I wouldn’t be inclined to bet,” he said, “but there’s a lot of money out there on the boards.” He also signaled that a new source of revenue for the company will likely come from a new digital enterprise, to be unveiled in three or four weeks, that is expected to offer TV shows, movies, and news on demand from his companies to paid subscribers.