January 9, 2008

US: Murdoch takes over Wall Street Journal


The News Corp CEO plans to change the newspaper's subscription-based website to a free one paid by advertisers

The Age
Friday, December 14, 2007

Dow Jones & Co shareholders have voted to approve a $US5.6 billion ($A6.4 billion) buyout by News Corp, giving Rupert Murdoch control of one of the world's most influential newspapers, the Wall Street Journal.

Shareholders controlling 60.27 per cent of Dow Jones' voting power approved the deal, priced at $US60 per share.

Moments after the deal closed, Murdoch said on Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto show that a free Wall Street Journal website could boost its current viewership from one million paid subscribers up to 20 million global visitors as early as next year.

"There will be more than enough advertising to make up" a loss of subscription fees to WSJ.com, he said. "It might take a year to get there. But it will get there."

The purchase cements his position as gatekeeper of media outlets spanning from Australia to London to New York.

"Our aim is pretty simple," Murdoch told Wall Street Journal newsroom staffers, according to a transcript of his speech. "We have to entertain, inform, enrich all our readers in their lives and in their businesses. We must be the pre-eminent source of financial information and comment in the world."

To trumpet his victory, News Corp plans a $US2 million ($A2.3 million) marketing campaign including ads in Friday papers.

According to a report on Fortune magazine's website, the Financial Times and China Daily refused to run the ads without changes that Murdoch was unwilling to make.

"I think they're a little sensitive," Murdoch told Cavuto, responding to a question about the FT's decision. "If I was them, I would've taken the money."

As Murdoch closed in on his long-sought prize, The Wall Street Journal, he gave his son, James, an expanded role in News Corp, naming him to a position apparently aimed at grooming him to head the conglomerate.

News Corp said last week that James Murdoch, 34, the youngest of Murdoch's four children, will be the boss of News Corp in Europe and Asia.

As chairman and chief executive of the company's businesses in Europe and Asia, James Murdoch will also oversee the Wall Street Journal Europe, the British newspapers The Times and The Sun as well as Australian publications controlled by News Corp.

Meanwhile News Corp veteran Les Hinton will become Dow Jones' new CEO.

Murdoch loyalist Robert Thomson, editor of the Times of London newspaper, was also appointed publisher of the Wall Street Journal.

The 76-year-old Murdoch plans to use Dow Jones as a linchpin in a global business news media and data empire.

The deal gives News Corp control of other Dow Jones assets including the Dow Jones stock indexes, Barron's, MarketWatch, eFinancialNews, the Far Eastern Economic Review, Dow Jones Newswires, and the Factiva database. Dow Jones also owns 50 per cent of the magazine SmartMoney and 33 per cent of STOXX Ltd, which manages European stock indexes.

Date Posted: 12/14/2007

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