Murdoch mulls Italo satcaster spinoff

ROME — Italy’s monopoly satcaster Sky Italia is again the subject of stock market flotation rumors after Rupert Murdoch announced Friday that it had become one of News Corp.’s most profitable divisions.

Murdoch gave his mid-quarter re-port on Sky Italia’s progress as part of Friday’s shareholders meeting in New York.

At its Nov. 8 quarterly report, News Corp. is expected to announce that Sky Italia has inked its 4 millionth sub-scriber, up from 3.8 million as of June 30.

Its steady subscription growth and low churn rate — below 10% — are fueling the division’s profitability, the company said.

Murdoch has been hinting for some time that he’d like to float Sky Italia, but he’s waiting for the Italian political climate to become clearer before he makes a decision.

Broadcasters are awaiting a new media bill being pushed by the Romano Prodi government that would open up competition in the digital and terrestrial TV markets.

It’s unlikely Murdoch will offer any further guidance on a potential IPO at the Nov. 8 quarterly report, industry observers said. They expect him to wait until early next year to make a decision.

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