News Corp says MySpace ad business ahead of target

News Corp's MySpace advertising business is operating ahead of expectations and its digital ad business is performing better than the marketplace, the company's chief operating officer said on Tuesday.

Rupert Murdoch's international media conglomerate, which owns The Wall Street Journal and the Fox network, also is interested in expanding its digital portfolio of businesses, COO Peter Chernin said at a Merrill Lynch media conference.

"The MySpace advertising business is above budget, above where we expected it to be," Chernin said of the popular online social network.

Despite the interest in building up its digital and subscription businesses, News Corp is not seriously looking at any big acquisitions.

"I guess on a macro basis there will be more acquisition opportunities going forward," Chernin said. "Most of the things we're seeing now still seem a little pricey."

The company also has planned no big divestitures.

His comments come after News Corp forecast a 30 percent rise in revenue in 2009 at Fox Interactive Media, which includes MySpace. It rose 57 percent in fiscal 2008.

Still, the company said in August that it faces a "much more difficult economic environment" in its current year that will continue to hurt local television advertising, but not national TV ad sales for now.

Earlier at the conference, CBS Corp Chief Executive Les Moonves said national TV advertising remained strong and that some local advertising was recovering, suggesting that marketers have not cut budgets as deeply as some feared.

By Robert MacMillan

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