News Corp to float Internet businesses

Murdoch admits that maybe this Internet thing isn't a flash in the pan after all...

For years Rupert Murdoch has downplayed the value of the Internet but on Wednesday the media giant announced that over the next few months he intends to float some of News Corp's online properties, the clearest indication yet that he has made an about-face on cyberspace.

Speaking at News Corp's annual meeting in Adelaide, Murdoch emphasised the importance of the Net to the company's future and insisted it is in a good position to take advantage of the online boom. Just this year Murdoch criticised the Net, saying it would "destroy more businesses than it creates".

The Australia-based company owns a variety of media properties, including 20th Century Fox, Fox Sports, book publishers such as HarperCollins, newspapers such as the Sun and the Times and games-centred Fox Interactive. Many of the properties have online brands, such as the Foxsports.com Web site or the-times.co.uk.

Murdoch also said he plans to step up News Corp's presence in Europe by taking a 25 percent stake in German digital TV company Premiere as well as pursuing other ventures.

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