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The flag of the Twenty-First Century Fox Inc is seen waving at the company headquarters in the Manhattan borough in New York June 11, 2015. — Reuters picThe flag of the Twenty-First Century Fox Inc is seen waving at the company headquarters in the Manhattan borough in New York June 11, 2015. — Reuters picNEW YORK, Nov 9 — Twenty-First Century Fox Inc’s quarterly revenue topped market estimates yesterday as higher sales from traditional and online distributors boosted its cable business.

The Rupert Murdoch-controlled company’s shares were up nearly 1 per cent in extended trading.

The first-quarter results come after CNBC reported on Monday that Fox had, in the last few weeks, held talks about selling most of its film and television assets to Walt Disney Co. The two sides are not currently in discussion, CNBC had reported.

At the beginning of a call with analysts, Fox’s Chairman Lachlan Murdoch, without naming Disney, said that the company would not respond to any questions regarding recent media reports.

However when asked if Fox was the right size or had the right set of assets, CEO James Murdoch said he liked the brands the company has.

“These are big brands that really matter for their customers and we like where we are,” he said.

The reported talks with Disney adds another layer of uncertainty to Fox’s bid to buy the rest the nearly 61 per cent of European pay-TV group Sky Plc it does not already own in an offer worth US$14.5 billion (RM61.3 billion) made in December.

The offer is being closely scrutinised by the British government. Nevertheless, Fox said yesterday it expects the deal to close by June 30, 2018.

Revenue from Fox’s cable division, which houses the Fox News and FX channels among others, rose 10 per cent to US$4.20 billion. That beat analysts’ average estimate of US$4.12 billion, according to financial data and analytics firm FactSet.

Domestic affiliate revenue, which consists of sales from its traditional and online distributors, jumped 11 per cent.

Affiliate sales helped offset an 11 per cent increase in expenses, primarily due to higher global sports programming costs.

In September, Fox’s Star India bid US$2.55 billion for the television and streaming rights combined to a hugely popular cricket tournament in India.

Fox expects those rights to add 2 per cent of cost growth and revenue in the fourth quarter, Fox told analysts.

Despite that increase, Fox said it was not concerned about the increasing cost of sports rights.

Fox said revenue rose to US$7.00 billion in the quarter ended Sept 30, higher than the US$6.51 billion a year earlier and the US$6.81 billion analysts were expecting, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. — Reuters

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