Sydney (AFP) - Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. on Friday issued a strong statement of support for newspapers, with chief executive Robert Thomson saying they had a crucial role in the group's multimedia future.
Like many media operations, News has struggled with sliding print advertising and circulation revenues. The company was broken up last June into two firms in a bid to insulate its profitable entertainment assets from newspapers.
One company, retaining the News Corp. name, now focuses on news and publishing while the other, 21st Century Fox, covers television and film. Murdoch remains in control of both.
Thomson said the group would continue to invest in printed versions of newspapers because they remain the most effective medium for creating communities and "affinity" with readers and advertisers.
"This is not merely an idle recounting of the past," he told an audience of industry leaders and advertising executives in Sydney, the company's broadsheet newspaper The Australian reported.
"There is a contemporary perception that newspapers are fading in their influence, that minutes spent on the web exceed minutes spent with print, but that certainly does not even get close to the truth."
Thomson was explaining the global media group's publishing strategy in front of News Corp. Australia chief Julian Clarke and Murdoch's son Lachlan, now co-chairman of both News and 21st Century Fox.
He said advertisers recognised that print remained viable.
"We are proud of the print provenance not because we wish to pay homage to the past, but because we believe print will have an absolutely crucial role in a multiplatform future," Thomson said.
News Corp., which was founded in Australia, publishes more than 100 newspapers worldwide, including The Wall Street Journal, The Times of London and The Australian.
Earlier this month, Thomson said he was "cautiously optimistic" about the global advertising outlook when reporting a better-than-expected News Corp. quarterly profit of US$48 million, despite newspaper revenues dropping.
Since the company split, the News Corp. share price in New York has risen strongly, adding about US$2.0 billion to its market capitalisation, The Australian said.