(Corrects to say expenses fell to $1.15 bln, not $1.14 bln, in paragraph 6, and total revenue rose 4.7 pct, not 4.5 pct, in paragraph 10)
(Reuters) - Wall Street Journal owner News Corp reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit on Thursday, driven by a tight control on expenses and growth in revenue across all its businesses.
News Corp said revenue in its rapidly growing digital real-estate unit, which includes REA Group Ltd, rose nearly 20 percent to $271 million.
Increased competition from digital media and a declining readership is driving print advertising down. Spending on print advertising in the U.S. is expected to fall 14 percent this year to about $18 billion, a third of what it was 10 years ago, according to media research firm Magna Intelligence. (http://bit.ly/2zJsXdP)
Major publishers have not been immune to eroding print ad sales. New York Times Co reported a 20.1 percent decline in print ad revenue in the latest quarter, while Chicago Tribune Media owner Tronc Inc posted an 18 percent fall.
News Corp, controlled by media mogul Rupert Murdoch, has been implementing various cost-cutting measures like reducing staff in its Dow Jones division, which includes the Journal, while boosting its digital real estate business to improve margins.
Operating expenses fell to $1.15 billion from $1.16 billion.
Revenue in the company's news and information division, which accounts for about two-thirds of total revenue, rose 1.6 percent to $1.24 billion in its first quarter.
Net income available to shareholders was $68 million, or 12 cents per share, in the first quarter ended Sept. 30, compared with a loss of $15 million, or 3 cents per share, a year earlier.
On an adjusted basis, the company earned 7 cents per share, beating the average analysts' estimate of a profit of 1 cent, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Total revenue rose 4.7 percent to $2.06 billion, beating analysts' estimate of $1.98 billion.
Thomson Reuters the parent of Reuters News, competes with Dow Jones Newswires.
(Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka and Divya Grover in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)