Murdoch unveils MySpace ambitions
News Corp. chief says company plans to launch social networking site in places like China, aims to overtake YouTube.
By Paul R. La Monica, editor at large

NEW YORK ( -- News Corp. Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch said Tuesday that his company has big plans for its popular social networking site MySpace.

Speaking at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia XV conference in New York, Murdoch said that he hopes to eventually launch a version of MySpace in several more countries, including China within the next year or so.

News Corp. Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch

He added that MySpace also hopes to take the market lead in online video from privately held YouTube in the next 60 to 70 days.

Other media executives said they are already seeing a financial benefit from the online video business.

Walt Disney (Charts) CEO Bob Iger said that Disney has already sold 125,000 movies on Apple's iTunes store. Disney just began selling films from its movie library on iTunes last week.

Iger said the downloads have generated $1 million in revenue already and that movie downloads could easily generate $50 million in sales a year for Disney. "We believe this is just the beginning," Iger said.

MySpace has been a big reason why News Corp. (down $0.19 to $19.73, Charts) has been one of the best performing media stocks this year. MySpace also recently signed an advertising deal with search leader Google (down $13.51 to $401.18, Charts), a deal that will provide MySpace with several hundred million dollars in revenue over the next few years.

Despite the success of MySpace, Murdoch ruled out the possibility of a spinoff of its Fox Interactive Media unit or other divisions.

"We tried that with Fox and it didn't work," he said, referring to News Corp.'s spin-off of a minority stake in its movie and TV business a few years ago. News Corp. eventually bought back the stake in Fox that it sold to the public.

Murdoch also said that News Corp. was in "more active discussions" with Liberty Media (up $0.16 to $82.11, Charts) regarding a possible swap of assets. According to reports, News Corp. is said to be considering ceding its minority stake in satellite TV firm DirecTV (up $0.27 to $19.17, Charts) in exchange for the stake in News Corp. owned by Liberty.

Murdoch was one of several media heavyweights speaking at the conference.

Barry Diller, the chairman and CEO of IAC/InterActive (Charts), which owns search firm, said he is confident that Ask can gain market share against the likes of Google, Yahoo! (Charts) and Microsoft's (Charts) MSN.

"We're the little engine that could," he said. "I never thought that success goes to the entrenched."

Diller said the goal is for Ask to one day grow its market share in search to 10 percent, up from about a 5 to 6 percent share currently.

But Terry Semel, the CEO of Yahoo, said he did not think his company was at risk of losing users to up-and-coming sites like Ask, MySpace, YouTube and Facebook.

Semel said Yahoo has continued to buy services, such as photo sharing site Flickr and launch new products like Yahoo Music and Yahoo Answers, in order to maintain and grow its audience.

IAC also owns financial services site LendingTree, dating site and the Home Shopping Network.

Other executives also talked about expanding their Internet media presence. CBS Corp. (Charts) CEO Leslie Moonves said his company would like to find "the next MySpace or next YouTube."

And Moonves did not rule out acquisitions for CBS. "Will we take a gamble? Yes. Are we looking at things? Absolutely."

'Old' media: We're not dead!  Top of page

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