Murdoch Says Ad Markets Are Improved

Murdoch Says Ad Markets Are Improved

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News Corp. Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch said U.S. advertising markets are “much better than they were four months ago.”

Separately, Mr. Murdoch said The Wall Street Journal, owned by News Corp., will start charging users for accessing the paper on mobile devices such as Research In Motion Ltd.’s BlackBerry smart phones and Apple Inc.’s iPhone. He said newspaper subscribers would pay $1 a week for mobile access, while others would pay $2 a week.

RUPERT MURDOCH

He also said the company is mulling plans to charge online subscriptions for Hulu, the video Web site that News Corp. launched with big media partners including NBC Universal. NBC Universal is 80% owned by General Electric Co. and 20% by Vivendi SA.

Mr. Murdoch said ad spending is nowhere near where it was in 2007, noting that revenue from News Corp.’s local broadcast stations are down 20% from last year. But he said the results have been “getting better every month and getting better every week.”

“I’m not an economist, but my guess is that the consensus is about right, and [the economy is] going to get a nice bump, and then it will settle back to a fairly slow recovery,” Mr. Murdoch said at a media conference Tuesday sponsored by Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

Mr. Murdoch said News Corp. would likely hold on to its cash flow now. He added that he was pleased the company didn’t listen to Wall Street analysts and hedge-fund managers who encouraged the company to take on debt and buy back shares when the economy was booming.

“If we had followed their advice, we’d be billions [of dollars] more in debt now,” he said. “We’re feeling very safe now.”

Write to Nat Worden at nat.worden@dowjones.com

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