Calling it the next logical step in a near six-decade evolution, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp has confirmed it plans to split into two separate publicly traded companies.
Under the proposal, one company will operate as a newspaper and book publisher, while the other will be an entertainment company that includes the 20th Century Fox movie studio, the Fox broadcast TV network and the Fox News channel. It may take a year to work out the details.
The Murdoch family, which controls nearly 40 per cent of the voting shares in News Corp, is expected to maintain control of both companies.
Rupert Murdoch said in a conference call with investors that a split would result in two strong companies that have more operational flexibility and be poised for greater growth.
"We've come a long way in our journey that began nearly 60 years ago with a single newspaper operating out of Adelaide," Murdoch said, referring to the single newspaper he inherited from his father and which became the foundation for News Corp.
"Each of these new companies would have the potential to continue that journey and prosper as an independent entity long into the future."
The split of News Corp is a symbolic turning point for its 81-year-old media mogul. Through the years, Murdoch maintained a fondness for newspapers even as he purchased entertainment companies.
Murdoch will serve as chairman of both companies and CEO of the media and entertainment company. The company said it plans to put together management teams and boards for both businesses over the next several months.
Analysts relished the prospect of the faster growing pay TV segment being valued more highly by investors unwilling to buy into a company being dragged down by a newspaper industry in decline.
The publishing company, to include The Wall Street Journal, is expected to be much smaller, with some analysts valuing it at about $US5 billion ($A4.98 billion), compared with News Corp's market value as a whole of about $US54 billion.
Murdoch emphasised on the call that the split doesn't mean that he's giving up on his publishing business, noting its "very strong" balance sheet and "robust" net cash position.
"The opportunity is so big, a single-minded pursuit is the best approach," Murdoch said. "Our aim is nothing less than this: to create the most ambitious, well-capitalised and highly motivated news and publishing company in the world."
Many analysts had questions about which entity would bear the financial risks of the ongoing UK probe into phone hacking and bribery.
News Corp also faces potential fines in the US, which punishes companies that have bribed officials abroad.
It is unclear if the split will appease British telecommunications regulator Ofcom, which is reviewing whether BSkyB - of which News Corp owns 39 per cent - is "fit and proper" to hold a broadcasting licence. Ofcom is expected to conclude its review later this year.