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News Corp buys religion website Beliefnet

8 December, 2007:

Fox Entertainment Group, a wing of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, has bought Beliefnet, the largest faith and spirituality information website.

Beliefnet will now become part of Fox Digital Media, which consists mostly of News Corp’s popular social networking site, MySpace.

Analysts see the acquisition, for an undisclosed sum, as a part of News Corp’s efforts to expand its vast media reach to the spirituality community on the internet.

Don Fawcett, president of Fox Digital Media, said, “Beliefnet has garnered respect for its commitment to quality, editorial strength and unbiased approach to faith and spirituality from a broad range of consumers, religious and political leaders, journalists and advertisers."

He added that Fox’s goal is “to leverage these characteristics across a broader media canvas and provide programming, production, advertising sales, technology and marketing expertise that will enhance an already terrific product in a rapidly growing market.”

The business of faith and spirituality content has been growing of late.

News Corp cited the Pew Internet Project as saying that over 82 million Americans and 64% of all internet users look to the Web for faith-related matters. In addition, News Corp said, a division of Marketresearch.com has put the demand for religious and spiritually oriented materials like books, DVDs and software over $8 billion.

“Fox Entertainment Group’s vast resources,” remarked Steven Waldman, CEO, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Beliefnet, “will enable Beliefnet to expand our audience, enhance our offerings and more effectively carry out our mission to help people find and walk a spiritual path that brings comfort, hope, clarity, strength, and happiness.”

Beliefnet has about 3 million visitors each month and a daily email newsletter that reaches nearly 11 million subscribers. The company, which is not affiliated with any spiritual organisation or movement, has a partnership with Time Warner’s Time magazine, Yahoo! and Chicken Soup for the Soul.

Beliefnet, founded in 1999, offers users “information and devotional tools” on almost every major religion, including Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Scientology, Mormonism and pagan and Earth-based religions. Besides, the website doubles as a “one-stop shop for spiritual users,” providing news, blogs, and e-mail.

In 2007 itself, News Corp bought Dow Jones, publisher of The Wall Street Journal, for a sum of $5 billion. This deal is expected to close before 2007 end.

News Corp had paid $580 million to buy MySpace in 2005.




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