News Corp. ad revs grow by 5%

Other media stocks rebound in upbeat market

A top News Corp. exec said Monday the troubled U.S. advertising market may be on the mend, as the company’s ad revenue grew by some 4%-5% during the first three months of the year.

The comments, by chief operating officer Peter Chernin, came as News Corp. and other media stocks rebounded in an upbeat market. The shares gained 3.8% to close $27.40. AOL Time Warner jumped 4.4% to $27.12, and Viacom rose 3.5% to close at $49.45. The Dow Jones Industrial Average hit its highest level since last July.

Stock in ABC parent Walt Disney, embroiled in messy negotiations to snatch David Letterman from Viacom’s CBS, fell 1.79% to $23.56.

Chernin, who joined other media toppers Monday at an Internet and broadcasting conference in London, told Reuters he’d seen ad revenues improve across News Corp.’s domestic TV assets in the first quarter, although it’s still too soon to call an end to the economic and advertising slump that has squeezed U.S. media companies.

Chernin has always been rather cautious when discussing the ad climate, unlike some other media execs, who continued to paint a rosy picture even as things deteriorated. “I’m not sure if three months is enough to say the bad times are over,” he said.

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