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Memo Pad: Selling Sandra… News Corp. Revenues Rise…

Sandra Bullock’s secret baby has turned into a big cash cow for People magazine.

A BABY AND A SCANDAL — THE PERFECT MATCH: Sandra Bullock’s secret baby has turned into a big cash cow for People magazine. The special double issue on newsstands now, which features a smiling Bullock holding baby Louis on the cover, has sold about 2.8 million copies, according to insiders. The issue, which also features the magazine’s annual “World’s Most Beautiful People” list, sells for $4.49 a pop. And the money won’t stop rolling in for a while, as Bullock’s cover will remain on newsstands for another week and a half. Could this turn out to be one of People’s most successful covers ever, topping the Michael Jackson tribute issue last summer, which sold a little more than 2.8 million copies, and the photos of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s new twins that were published back in August 2008? Early estimates are pointing in that direction, although the Bullock cover is unlikely to top People’s all-time bestsellers on the deaths of Princess Diana and John F. Kennedy Jr. A spokeswoman could not be reached for comment. — Amy Wicks


THINGS ARE LOOKING UP:
News Corp. doesn’t have another “Avatar” up its sleeve, which is too bad because the company reported a record-setting 76 percent increase in operating income in its film segment during the third quarter, to $497 million. As for the newspaper division, chief executive officer Rupert Murdoch said during a conference call on Tuesday that the $30 million figure that’s been reported to launch The Wall Street Journal’s New York section is “b.s.,” adding the company has invested $1 million at most in the section and advertising revenues have covered that figure and more so far (although there have been reports the Journal is slashing rates by as much as 90 percent to go after The New York Times).

During the quarter, operating income was up $102 million to $131 million in the newspaper division, driven in part by increased ad revenues at the Journal. A digital, subscription-based model is still in the works for e-readers, and Murdoch said a press conference will be held in three or four weeks that will reveal more about charging for digital content and a model that could compete with iTunes.

Total revenues for News Corp. rose 19 percent to $8.8 billion and the company reported a net income of $839 million, compared with $2.7 billion a year ago. Last year, News Corp. recorded a net gain of $1.2 billion on the partial sale of its ownership stake in NDS. — A.W.

 

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