Los Angeles, CA – October 21, 2011 – Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.
I want to thank the shareholders here today and all the shareholders who have travelled with us on a remarkable journey… a journey that is still in its early stages.
It is fair to say that the company has attracted a certain amount of attention in recent months… and I wanted to reaffirm the seriousness by which I take what has gone on in London, as well as put that controversy in context of our entire global business… and to share with you my optimism about the potential growth for our profits, our products and our people.
The story of our company is the stuff of legend – from a small newspaper in Adelaide, to a global corporation based in New York with a market cap of $44 billion… informing, entertaining and educating at least a billion people each day.
Our social role is important… and so is our role as a creator of value for investors… you will no doubt have noted that our share price has outperformed that of our peers this year.
We succeed because we deliver compelling content that engages, entertains and informs. Here’s one staggering statistic: each year we produce more than 150,000 hours of original television content around the globe… from entertainment programs, to live sports, news, and digital programming.
This gives you a sense of the full power and reach of our production capabilities… from Hollywood, to New York, to London, to Italy, to India and even Colombia.
In this era of expanding digital consumption, our content libraries are fast becoming digital treasure troves.
Today we have more than 40 thousand episodes of television series, nearly four thousand movies, and more than 50 thousand book titles… in our library.
We’ll add to this amazing asset this year by releasing 26 films, publishing 5,000 titles around the world, and providing compelling digital journalism to our readers every day.
When you couple great content with technology, the possibilities are infinite.
But we cannot just be a profitable company… we must be a principled company.
We simply can’t deliver on our commitment to engage, entertain, and inform if our 50,000 employees aren’t beacons for good professional and ethical behavior. That is why we must admit to, and confront our mistakes, and establish rigorous and vigorous procedures to put things right.
Over the past few months, we have been the subject of much attention over allegations that a number of our journalists in Britain had broken the law by hacking personal telephone voicemails.
There is simply no excuse for unethical behavior.
There are real issues, that we must confront and are confronting. We could not be taking this more seriously, or listening as intently to criticisms.
We closed “The News of the World” at financial cost to our company and to the many fine and innocent journalists who played by the rules and broke no law… the only thing they broke were great stories.
They launched important campaigns, uncovered political scandals and held the powerful to account. Still, closing “The News of the World” was the right thing to do.
If we hold others to account, then we must hold ourselves to account… which is why we have devoted so many resources to get to the heart of this matter… and why I am personally determined to right whatever wrong has been committed and to ensure that it does not happen again anywhere in our company.
Our directors, too, are playing an important role. They have been engaged in our processes and progress, and I thank them for their diligence during a period in which the company has been the subject of both understandable scrutiny and unfair attack.
I am particularly grateful to two of our directors, both former deputy attorneys general of the United States.
Joel Klein has hired and supervised many of the world’s finest lawyers here and in Britain, while Viet Dinh, on behalf of the Independent directors, has watched carefully over the process on a daily basis, and kept his colleagues fully informed and engaged. These two men have earned over their long careers reputations for integrity, effectiveness, and the highest ethics. I am grateful they are the ones leading the effort for News Corp to put things right.
The matter will continue to unfold in coming months, with the British legal system determining the timing of events.
We are cooperating very closely with London’s Metropolitan Police, and the cases are in their thorough and competent hands.
They have rightly asked us to refrain from comments or interviews for fear of prejudicing these cases, and to ensure that justice is done. What I can say is that due process is well underway.
While this issue has taken a significant amount of my time as well as that of our executives, the great majority of our employees have been getting on with building our business and increasing our profitability.
We really do have a remarkable platform for future growth. Your support has enabled us to develop the world’s greatest content company at a time when the value of content is increasingly appreciated and appreciating. So we will continue to build… aggressively and ethically.
Obviously, there are great challenges ahead, but even greater opportunities.
Behind the headline initiatives, such as the production of Avatar, the building of a revolutionary, and profitable, educational division, and the launching of a purely digital original newspaper, The Daily, there is the outstanding but steady growth of our world-class franchises.
The Wall Street Journal, now the leading national newspaper in the U.S., has not only shown month-after-month, quarter-after-quarter, increases in circulation revenue… it is recording double digit growth in advertising revenue… while its main competitor is in decline. And the Journal is increasingly a digital platform, with a global monthly digital audience of more than 50 million lucrative readers, stretching across borders and languages.
Much the same can be said for The Times, Sunday Times and Sun in Britain… as well as our fine papers in Australia, all of which are developing digital personalities, on the web and on mobile devices, to complement their traditional print businesses. And advertising remains surprisingly strong in Britain.
Today, our most important growth driver and our fastest growing business segment is our group of news and entertainment Cable channels. In Fiscal 2011, our Cable channels accounted for more than half of the Company’s total adjusted segment operating income.
In film and television, Fox News and the FBC network continue to increase their long-term leadership and revenue, leaving the competition far behind… and launching programs that are creative and remunerative. Other cable channels, such as FX, are vaulting in viewership, and building flourishing franchises.
Great programmes and films, and more and ever better ones, are our insurance for the future.
Fox International Channels, 350 in number, in 50 languages, and reaching more than one billion people, has emerged as an extremely successful division, one which has been able to capitalize not only on digital trends, but also on the growing power of globalization, which is itself creating remarkable opportunities for us around the world.
BSkyB now has ten million homes as subscribers… Sky in Italy has just passed the five million mark… Sky in Germany has made significant strides this year… and TataSky has grown to 4.5 million in India.
These are only a few of our world-leading franchises and give a sense of the opportunities that await us… and they are eloquent evidence of the truly remarkable journey that we have taken together… and of the profitable path ahead.
Visibility into advertising levels for 2012 is uncertain, although advance bookings are holding very steady, and our mix of businesses gives us a firm foundation for short and long-term growth.
Our broad, diverse group of businesses across the globe is extremely strong, and we have no intention of resting on our laurels.
Our mission is to keep increasing choice for all, whether in news, entertainment or education… which in turn assures greater shareholder value.
We are clearly in great shape to prosper in the coming years and I look forward to sharing that prosperity with you. So, with that, let’s get on with the meeting agenda.