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Murdoch bullish about traditional media stox

Financial markets are like sheep, sez News Corp. chief

Rupert Murdoch, whose News Corp. is investing heavily in new media, predicted Sunday that the stock price of traditional media and entertainment companies will soon recover.

In the radio interview with the BBC, Murdoch conceded that News Corp.’s stock price had performed poorly despite annual profit hikes of around 20% for the past five years, but said financial markets “were rather like sheep.”

“They’ll be back,” he declared. “These things go in and out of fashion. I think that goes, too, for our competitors in traditional media.”

Asked if News Corp. was about to be eclipsed by the new wave of digital operators like Google, Murdoch was upbeat.

“We may well be doing things with Google,” he said. “We’re on the eve of a new golden age for media. Distribution platforms are nothing if you can’t put something on them.”

In 20 years, he predicted, “Everybody in the world is going to be able to get broadband and express themselves on it. There’s a vast market for successful creators of popular content.”

Murdoch was interviewed by BBC radio station Five Live in a wide-ranging encounter encompassing the war in Iraq (he remains optimistic about the outcome, predicting that a democratic Iraq would lead to a more peaceful world), British politics and his own business interests and rivals.

On his spat with Liberty Media’s John Malone and the imposition of a so-called poison pill to prevent a Malone takeover of News Corp., Murdoch denied the move had attracted criticism from investors.

“We haven’t had one complaint from a fund manger,” he said. “But corporate governance groups like to make a noise.”

As for his own succession and News Corp.’s future, Murdoch said he didn’t know who would be running the conglom in a decade but hoped it would be someone who was “better than me” and that the combine would be “playing a useful part in people’s lives.”

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