Rupert Murdoch's News Corp formally applied to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to separate its publishing and entertainment assets into two independent, publicly traded companies.

The new News Corp will comprise a range of newspaper brands, information and integrated marketing services, digital real estate services, book publishing, digital education, and sports programming and pay-TV distribution in Australia, the company said in a statement.

Robert Thomson, a close confidant of Murdoch and currently managing editor of the Wall Street Journal and editor in chief of its publisher Dow Jones & Co, will lead the new publishing company.

"The filing of the Form 10 is another important step forward in the evolution of our company and in the establishment of two independent global leaders in Fox Group and the new News Corporation," CEO Murdoch said.

A Form 10, also known as the general form for registration of securities, is one of the most basic sources of information about a publicly traded security.

News Corp said in June that it would separate its publishing and entertainment assets after shareholders pressed it to get rid of its troubled newspaper business.

A phone hacking scandal hit the company's British newspapers earlier this year, forcing it to drop its proposed purchase of pay-TV group BSkyB.

News Corp's film and television businesses currently include the 20th Century Fox film studio, Fox broadcasting network and Fox News channel.

The publishing division includes the HarperCollins book publisher, its education arm headed by former New York schools Chancellor Joel Klein, and newspapers including the Wall Street Journal, the Times of London, the Sun, the New York Post and the Australian.

Shares of the company closed at $25.42 on Thursday on the Nasdaq.

(Reporting by Sayantani Ghosh in Bangalore; Editing by Roshni Menon)