News Corp buys Skiff e-reader platform, invests in online journalism

When Rupert Murdoch was asked whether or not News Corp would be launching an e-reader of its own, he answered: "I don't think that's likely." It seems that what he meant was: "Why bother? We can just buy Skiff." And for good measure the world's second largest media conglomerate has just launched something called Digital Journalism Initiatives (which is responsible for News Corp's new business efforts in premium digital journalism) and dumped some money into Journalism Online, LLC -- the startup that Steve Brill and co. founded to try and figure out how, exactly, news organizations can keep afloat these days. But don't worry: you're not likely to see a Fair & Balanced e-reader just yet. Apparently, the purchase merely covers the platform and intellectual property. Which leads us to our next question: why is this man smiling? PR after the break.

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News Corporation Acquires Skiff, LLC; Makes Investment in Journalism Online, LLC

Jon Housman Appointed President of News Corporation's Digital Journalism Initiatives

New York, NY, June 14, 2010 – News Corporation today announced that it has acquired Skiff, LLC, Hearst Corporation's e-reading platform designed to deliver premium journalism to tablets, smartphones, e- readers and netbooks. The Company also announced an investment in Journalism Online LLC, the venture dedicated to enabling newspapers, magazines and online-only publishers of quality content to collect revenue from their online readers. The financial terms of both agreements were not disclosed.

"Today's developments underscore News Corporation's ongoing commitment to create strong business models that support journalism at a time of great change in our industry," said Jon Miller, Chief Digital Officer, News Corporation. "Both Skiff and Journalism Online serve as key building blocks in our strategy to transform the publishing industry and ensure consumers will have continued access to the highest quality journalism."

"We're delighted by this investment and this vote of confidence," said Journalism Online co-founder Steven Brill. "Journalism co-founder Gordon Crovitz added, "We're especially pleased with this investment because News Corp. is the industry leader in making the case that there is value in journalism online for which readers will be willing to pay."

In addition, Mr. Miller named Jon Housman President of News Corporation's digital journalism initiatives. In this newly created role, Mr. Housman, who has worked closely with these initiatives over the past year, will be responsible for driving and managing new business efforts in premium digital journalism. He will report to Mr. Miller.

Miller added, "Jon Housman is the ideal executive to shape these new businesses as we enter this important phase of digital journalism. I have full confidence in his capabilities and look forward to working closely with him and his team to drive these efforts forward."

The Skiff platform specializes in delivering visually appealing layouts for newspaper and magazine content. With the capability to deliver high-resolution graphics, rich typography and dynamic updates, this unique platform has the ability to retain engaging design elements that consumers enjoy while allowing publications to maintain brand identity and differentiation.

Journalism Online's Press+TM e-commerce platform allows publishers to choose and continually adjust multiple options for paid access, with each publisher selecting its own business model, offerings, and pricing. This includes the "metered model" under which many readers will continue to access sites for free, while the most engaged readers will pay for full access. Press+ will give consumers the convenience of one account and password to access their favorite websites.

Mr. Housman has worked closely with News Corporation for the past several years as a strategic advisor, primarily directing projects at Fox Entertainment Group, Fox Interactive Media and NDM.

Earlier, he served as managing director and board member of The Wall Street Journal Europe SPRL, leading the Dow Jones European subsidiary which distributes in 35 countries across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. He also led a division formed by Dow Jones to build and grow the company's global online and classifieds business. He has led several acquisitions / investments and served on several boards on behalf of News Corporation. Previously, he was co-founder and chief executive of Jungle Media Group, a New York-based media company targeting the "young professional" marketplace with properties in digital, print, conferences and books. He also worked as a consultant with McKinsey & Co, specializing in strategy and technology for companies and private equity firms in the media and entertainment space.

About News Corporation

News Corporation (NASDAQ: NWS, NWSA; ASX: NWS, NWSLV) had total assets as of March 31, 2010 of approximately US$55 billion and total annual revenues of approximately US$32 billion. News Corporation is a diversified global media company with operations in eight industry segments: filmed entertainment; television; cable network programming; direct broadcast satellite television; integrated marketing services; newspapers and information services; book publishing; and other. The activities of News Corporation are conducted principally in the United States, Continental Europe, the United Kingdom, Australia, Asia and Latin America.