Looks like News Corp’s trying to boost the Deputy COO’s profile on Wall Street: James Murdoch’s appearance today at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom Conference was his second high-profile presentation to investors this month. (He was also on News Corp’s latest earnings call.) Rupert’s son, who last year had to defend himself against allegations that he was at least partly responsible for News Corp’s UK hacking and bribery scandals, seemed to relish the largely friendly questions about the company’s plans. He assured the audience that the company won’t go overboard in buying rights to sports programming amid reports that News Corp plans to create a national sports network. “It’s important to have a portfolio of rights where you can walk away,” Murdoch says. For example, the Los Angeles Dodgers wanted payments that were “too rich for us,” leading the team to create its own regional sports channel. “We understand how to price sports and package them properly.” He says long term deals, including News Corp’s $3B acquisition of a 49% stake in the New York Yankees’ YES Network, tend to be most cost effective. “We have a lot of confidence in their ability to put a great product on the field,” he said of the Bronx Bombers. Separately, he said that Comcast’s acquisition of NBCUniversal illustrates that “the domestic [pay TV] industry is going to change a lot over the next five years.” He’s also optimistic about book publishing, including Harper Collins which News Corp will spin off when it splits its publishing assets from entertainment. It’s engaged in a “super exciting transition” to e-books.
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