Murdoch talks trade with Malone

News Corp. chairman-CEO Rupert Murdoch says he plans to sell some U.S. television stations and could swap them for John Malone’s stake in the giant media conglom.

Murdoch told reporters in Australia this week that News Corp. and Malone’s Liberty Media are “a little closer” to talking “more meaningfully” about a deal after months of deadlock.

Malone owns an 18% chunk of News Corp. voting stock, making him the second largest and most influential shareholder after the Murdoch family – a situation Rupe doesn’t savor.

One solution could involve selling Malone “a number of TV stations,” Murdoch said. He said the stations are proving tough assets to grow in the current ad climate.

“We’re doing very well — we’ve been the No.1 network the last two years and network revenues are rising strongly. But our local TV stations, which are very strong, are increasing their share of the market without increasing their revenue so much,” he said. “We’ll be selling some of those smaller TV stations in the next year.”‘

Separately, News Corp. named Rod Paige, the former U.S. Secretary of Education under President George W. Bush, to its board, effective immediately. The addition boosts the board to 15 directors.

Paige held the education post from 2001 to 2005. News Corp. said Paige spearheaded implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act.

After leaving the administration, he served as a Public Policy Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Most recently, he co-founded Chartwell Education Group, a consulting firm.

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