NEW YORK, June 27 (UPI) -- News Corp.'s board has approved a plan to split Rupert Murdoch's U.S. multinational media conglomerate into two companies, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Citing a person familiar with the situation, the newspaper said the split -- approved Wednesday -- is expected to be announced publicly Thursday. News Corp. would separate the bigger and more profitable entertainment businesses from the newspaper business, the Journal -- which is owned by News Corp. -- reported Tuesday.
The New York Times reported a similar scenario, citing no sources.
The split would remove the 20th Century Fox film studio, Fox Broadcasting network and Fox News Channel, along with dozens of other cable and satellite channels, from News Corp's newspaper, book-publishing assets and education businesses.
News Corp.'s publishing assets, besides the Journal, include the New York Post, The Times of London, the British tabloid The Sun and more than 175 other newspapers, along with HarperCollins book publishing.
Top editors and publishers from the company's newspapers were flown to New York from around the world Tuesday for a lunch meeting at News Corp's headquarters, the Journal and Times said.
Murdoch, his son James Murdoch, and Chief Operating Officer Chase Carey sought to ease anxiety among editors fearful the newspapers would lose their economic safety net without the high-performing entertainment operations to prop them up, the Times said.
One employee described the meeting as emotional, the Times said.
The entertainment assets generated an operating profit of $4.6 billion in the year that ended June 30, 2011, the company said. The publishing unit contributed $864 million in operating profit during the same period.
The entertainment business could be worth more than $50 billion and the publishing company around $3 billion, analysts estimate.
News Corp.'s stock climbed 8 percent Tuesday to close at $21.96 a share, its highest close since 2007.
The Murdoch family, which controls News Corp. with a roughly 40 percent voting stake, is expected to maintain control of the two companies, the Journal and Times said.
Rupert Murdoch would oversee both companies, likely retaining his chief executive officer role at the entertainment company, the Journal said, adding it wasn't immediately clear who would be the publishing company's CEO.
The breakup idea comes almost exactly a year after a scandal blew up in early July 2011 with the revelation that News Corp. British tabloid the News of the World had hacked the voice mail of a missing 13-year-old girl who turned out to be murdered.
The scandal -- which expanded into broader allegations of phone hacking, police bribery and improper influence of politicians in the pursuit of news stories -- forced the News of the World's closure, resignations of senior News Corp. executives and abandonment of News Corp.'s bid to take over British Sky Broadcasting Group PLC.
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