Rupert Murdoch Opens Up About Borat 2 And MySpace

"We're dealing with new territory here. Everything is changing every day, and one has to make a lot of assumptions," Murdoch said, when asked to prognosticate about the role online properties will play in the future media landscape. Despite the changing market's uncertainties, Murdoch expects independent, online brands like MySpace to soon make up at least 10 percent of his company's revenue -- and they'll "probably be the biggest profit driver," he said.

News Corp. scooped up the social networking site two years ago for a price tag in excess of $600 million. The site now generates $25 million a month in advertising and is part of a collection of Internet assets that are on track to be a billion-dollar business within the next year or two, according to Murdoch.

"It's grown faster than we expected," he said.

While MySpace is a prize News Corp. is pleased to have snatched up, Murdoch professed little interest in the ones that got away. Facebook's user base of college students is endlessly churning, and YouTube has some "big problems involved" with copyright and the difficulty of monetizing an ad stream around it, Murdoch said.

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Building online properties is just one of the avenues the 75-year-old media mogul is pursuing to keep News Corp. vital. The company will soon launch a business news television channel to compete with CNBC, he said. Envision what a "Fox Business" would look like and when it will launch has been a favorite media industry parlor game for years, but Murdoch was deliberately vague about details. Admitting that "a bit of nerves in the company" delayed the channel's debut, Murdoch nonetheless promised that it will hit the air this year.

Murdoch declined to get into specifics about his vision for the channel. "Everything we [announce], CNBC will immediately copy," he demurred. But he hinted that it will be a cozier partner to its subjects than CNBC has been. Murdoch criticized his soon-to-be-rival as an outlet too quick to leap on scandals.

"We want to be a bit more business-friendly," he said.

Leaving business matters aside, Murdoch touched on two popular subjects of water-cooler chatter: presidential politics and Borat.

Borat's runaway success helped make benefit glorious profit for News Corp., which has reaped $248 million at the box office so far from the inexpensive film.

Murdoch brushed aside criticism of the film's tastelessness, pronouncing himself a fan who has seen the film three times. Sascha Baron Cohen is signed to do a sequel, he said.

"We had a private theater with about eight of us. We watched it and laughed like hell, and then went out to dinner after and laughed all over again, and woke up the next morning and said, 'God, that was gross,'" Murdoch said. "But I don't think it destroyed our culture."

Murdoch's presentation at the 2007 Media Summit took the form of a question-and-answer session with Business Week editor Steve Adler. Their back-and-forth briefly devolved into a tug-of-war when Adler pressed Murdoch about his loyalties in the looming 2008 U.S. presidential election. Murdoch, a naturalized U.S. citizen who owns some of the most conservative news outlets in the country, hosted a fundraiser last year for Democratic aspirant Hillary Clinton.

Asked about the fundraiser, Murdoch brushed it off as an inconsequential event he hosted at the behest of a collegue, and said he isn't supporting Clinton's presidential bid. But he carefully sidestepped the question of whether he would consider supporting her in the future, and praised her as a "very intelligent, very considerable lady." On foreign policy, she "would certainly be a long stronger and subtler than her husband was." (When the line drew laughs from the audience, Murdoch emphasized that his comments pertained only to foreign policy.)

Murdoch said his dream candidate for 2008 is Newt Gingrich -- though perhaps only as a candidate, not as an actual president. Gingrich's ideas would enliven the campaign, Murdoch said: "I think he would lift the debate. He would make all the primaries a lot more serious."