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September 12, 2005 6:25 pm

Murdoch shares ?vision for internet?

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Rupert Murdoch has told his senior executives they must find ways to integrate their traditional publishing and broadcasting operations with the internet assets in which News Corporation has invested in recent months.

Delegates at a weekend News Corp summit in Carmel, California, were told that different parts of the media conglomerate needed to start talking more to each other to find more ways of collaborating online.

The summit also focused on identifying which of the group?s existing news and sports brands ? which range from the Fox TV channels in the US to The Sun and The Times in the UK ? could best be used on News Corp?s new online platforms.

A further priority was to ensure that different divisions were using technology that was compatible across the company, according to one person who attended.

The two-day programme of meetings at a hotel in Carmel, which culminated with a party at Mr Murdoch?s ranch on Saturday, featured presentations by internet companies acquired by Mr Murdoch in recent months.

Neither James Murdoch, his younger son who was in charge of the group?s internet strategy before becoming chief executive of British Sky Broadcasting, nor his older brother Lachlan, who resigned from his executive duties in July, attended the summit.

Mr Murdoch also invited outside speakers including George Gilder, author of a technology investment newsletter called The Gilder Report, and representatives of Kleiner Perkins Caufield correct & Byers, a Silicon Valley venture capital group.

The summit, the second in seven months to address News Corp?s internet strategy, follows Mr Murdoch?s speech to the American Society of Newspaper Editors in April, in which he said that digital technology was driving ?a revolution in the way in which young people are accessing news? which would require ?a transformation of the way we think about our product?.

Since then, News Corp has formed a new online division, Fox Interactive Media. It has announced the $580m acquisition of Intermix Media, which operates a social networking site called MySpace.com; bid $60m for Scout Media, which publishes sports websites; and last week unveiled a $650m takeover of IGN Entertainment, an internet game information company. It is also understood to be in talks to buy Blinkx, a video search engine.

Integrating such assets will be vital, analysts say. Last week, credit ratings agency Standard & Poor?s, said: ?Although these acquisitions may boost intermediate and long-term growth potential...a larger question exists as to how the internet acquisitions, in particular, will integrate with and enhance existing businesses and generate a return on investment.?

News Corp considered but rejected an investment in Skype, the internet telephony group sold yesterday to eBay. Analysts believe it may have another $1bn to spend on internet deals, and may use it to acquire search engine technology.

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