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News Corp has fallen to a $1.4bn loss for the year 2017/18, over double its comparable losses for the previous year which stood at a more manageable $643m – although this year’s figures were skewed by a one-off $998m write down relating to the consolidation of Foxtel and Fox Sports in Australia.

The swathe of red ink came despite healthy digital subscriber growth led by The Times, Sunday Times and Wall Street Journal as well as successes at its property portal in addition to its book publishing unit.

Chief executive Robert Thomson said: “We also saw meaningful operational improvements at the news and information services segment led by higher digital paid subscribers and disciplined cost initiatives, notably in Australia.

“HarperCollins’ success underscores the importance of intelligent editors and great writers in creating premium content. Algorithms are, as yet, unable to write empathetic, compelling books.”

Thomson did not divulge digital subscriber figures but an earnings report to the stock market detailed a jump in Australian subscriptions from 363,600 last year to 415,600 this year. Meanwhile total group revenues leapt 11% to $9bn and earnings before expenses surged 21% to $1.07bn.

In common with other publishers News Corp has been weighed down by weak print advertising.