Murdoch gets his paws on Dow Jones

So the News Corporation empire keeps marching on. Rupert Murdoch's protracted four-month battle for Dow Jones has finally ended, after key members of the squabbling Bancroft family, which has controlled Dow Jones for 100 years, switched sides and pledged support for his £2.7bn bid. The mogul will be pleased. He's finally got his hands on the coveted Wall Street Journal, and a foot firmly planted in the lucrative business news market.

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010
Murdoch's empire already includes broadcasters BSkyB and Fox, more than 100 newspapers (including the Sun and the Times in the UK as well as the New York Post and the Australian), and social networking site MySpace. To that he can now add the key prize, the Wall Street Journal, which has 2.6m subscribers, and the second highest newspaper circulation in the US. But there are other gems too. Dow Jones Newswires, which competes with the likes of Bloomberg and Reuters to provide financial and economic news to analysts, traders and brokers, will be able to continue to charge a premium while other news goes the way of free distribution on the web. And can also put the kybosh on an existing deal in which Dow Jones provides financial information to rival channel CNBC, boosting his Fox Business News and strengthening his planned Fox Business channel.

Of course we shouldn't be surprised that Murdoch finally got his way. The Bancroft family may have been passionate about defending their respected legacy against the man behind the Sun and Fox News, but such sentiment is no match for an arch deal-maker like Murdoch. Especially when he has been after the prize for 10 years. Indeed, the Bancrofts never really stood a chance. Describing their management of Dow Jones, Warren Buffett claimed 'they blew it', adding that the company they sold for $5bn could have been worth $50bn if they'd known what they were doing.

One stipulation of the deal is a series of editorial safeguards, designed to protect Dow Jones' integrity from Murdoch's famously aggressive and hands-on management style. We can't imagine that holding up. You may remember when Murdoch bought Times Newspapers in 1981, with a similar guarantee to independence. The Times' editor left soon after, apparently the result of the old man's interference.

All of which is now academic - Murdoch holds the reins. Which is bad news perhaps for the FT. Murdoch may soon be coming after it, guns blazing.

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