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Rupert Murdoch pledges action on phone hacking

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Rupert Murdoch in front of a News Corporation logo

© PA Images

News Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch has pledged to do "whatever is necessary" to prevent a repeat of the phone hacking scandal that resulted in the closure of the News of the World, as his media giant reported buoyant annual performance.

Today, Murdoch's News Corp announced operating income of $4.98bn (£3.08bn) in the 12 months to the end of June, against $4.46bn (£2.76bn) a year ago. The firm's income was up 12% year-on-year, driven largely by strong performance by its TV and cable networks.

The company reported a 22% drop in its fourth-quarter earnings, largely due to the $254m (£157m) after-tax loss incurred from the sale of struggling social network MySpace.

Annual revenue rose 11% to $5.54bn (£3.43bn), due to strong advertising sales and pay-TV growth. There was also a 53% rise in fourth quarter film profits, buoyed by hit movies such as Rio and Black Swan.

However, News Corporation has been thrown in chaos by the phone hacking scandal that has engulfed its News International UK newspaper publishing division. The controversy has disrupted the 80-year-old billionaire's succession plans and left his company facing years of costly legal battles.

Announcing the results, News Corp chairman and chief executive Murdoch expressed his happiness with the results, but acknowledged the challenges faced in clearing up the phone hacking controversy.

"While it has been a good quarter from a financial point of view, our company has faced challenges in recent weeks relating to our London tabloid, News of the World. We are acting decisively in the matter and will do whatever is necessary to prevent something like this from ever occurring again," he said.

"It is important to note that there has been no material impact on our other operations. Our broad, diverse group of businesses across the globe is extremely strong today. The drivers of our businesses are intact, our position is strong and our future is promising."

News Corporation shut down the News of the World last month, after allegations that journalists working for the Sunday tabloid may have hacked into various people's phones, including the murdered teenager Milly Dowler and the families of dead soldiers.

News International is facing investigation by police and politicians in the UK, while the FBI in the US is probing News Corp's awareness and involvement in the scandal.

Discussing News Corp's future plans, Murdoch said: "Our fundamental goals at News Corp are to produce sustained, meaningful value for shareholders, provide outstanding content and services to customers and consumers - and do it with integrity. These goals are interrelated and all three are critically important. And we will deliver on them."

The billionaire said that he and News Corp chief operating officer Chase Carey had "full confidence" in James Murdoch, who is widely viewed as Murdoch's heir apparent, but is facing allegations that he misled MPs on the parliamentary select committee.

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