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News Corp. Business Channel to Launch in fall, Murdoch Says

Rupert Murdoch said that News Corp. plans to launch a business channel in the fall that will compete with General Electric's CNBC.

Speaking at a media and technology conference in New York, Murdoch said there would be more details on the long-awaited channel soon. He said there was a “great opportunity” there.

The project has been in the works for several years, and the company has said it would get launched only if enough distribution were in place. Recently the company signed up Time Warner Cable, a division of Time Warner that is the second-largest cable provider in the country.

Murdoch also said News Corp. was seeing rapid growth from its MySpace unit, the leading social networking site on the Internet, where advertising revenue was growing about 30% every quarter.

Murdoch also said he hoped to see revenue from online-only businesses at News Corp. such as MySpace to make up about 10% of the company’s revenue in the next five years or so.

He didn’t provide a comparable figure for current online revenue, but on Wednesday News Corp. reported that revenue from its Fox Interactive Media unit, comprised mainly of MySpace, had grown to $125 million in the three months ending in December, which would be around 1.5% of the company’s overall revenue.

Murdoch also said he saw big opportunities for expanding overseas, as well as in mobile devices such as cell phones. He said that a new deal to deliver MySpace to subscribers of Cingular Wireless, now part of AT&T , had already signed up about 200,000 customers in 7 weeks. News Corp. shares revenue from the service, which costs users $3 per month.

On the matter of succession -- a question that comes up regularly for the 75-year-old media mogul -- Murdoch quipped: "I just want to live forever," then demurred, saying it was up to the company’s board of directors.

Murdoch, who recently distributed $100 million in News Corp. stock to each of his six children, has said he hopes to keep control of the company within his family, but he declined to go into greater detail Thursday.

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