Asked several times about News Corp.’s interest in combining its MySpace/FIM properties with Yahoo, Microsoft or anyone else, COO Peter Chernin waved off the question during the company’s Q3 call. News Corp. is happy where it is, and isn’t intent on doing a deal, he said.
Then again, Chernin wasn’t emphatic about it. The company is “willing to have strategic conversations if they made sense,” he said.
Analysts and reporters asked several iterations about the same topic, and they basically got the same answer every time. News Corp. (NWS) is talking to everybody, but they’re not really talking to anybody. Our favourite version came after Chernin was asked about his specific interest in an AOL (TWX) or Microsoft (MSFT) tie-up:
Chernin: “I have not had a conversation with Microsoft or AOL in a couple of weeks”.
Rupert Murdoch “Nor have I”.
This, of course, means very little: It’s perfectly possible for their proxies to chat about this stuff extensively. And during News Corp.’s last Q2 call, Murdoch also professed little interest in a Yahoo deal — even though his team was spending quite a bit of time effort trying to make it happen.
And it certainly would make sense for Murdoch to try and either 1) cash in his MySpace asset or 2) try to combine with a larger property (say, Yahoo). The big question: What is MySpace worth, especially now that News Corp. has admitted the difficulty it is having selling ad space on the site?
See Also: News Corp. Q3 Call