Murdoch would be bad news

Scott Jagow May 7, 2007
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Murdoch would be bad news

Scott Jagow May 7, 2007
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TEXT OF INTERVIEW

SCOTT JAGOW: One of the biggest stories last week was Rupert Murdoch’s $5 billion bid for the Dow Jones Company. Dow Jones owns The Wall Street Journal. Yesterday, one of the company’s biggest shareholders said he’s against the bid. He said it might compromise the newspaper’s editorial integrity. Newsweek’s Allan Sloan agrees Murdoch would be bad news for The Journal.

ALLAN SLOAN: He is the kind of owner who will inject his political views into the news coverage no matter what he promises, no matter what he says, no matter how much he smiles at people, he’ll do that and I prefer a Wall Street Journal that’s dispassionate rather than having a news agenda that’s informed by its owner.

JAGOW: Alright there’s the journalistic perspective, now what about the Wall Street financial perspective — is this a big deal for Wall Street?

SLOAN: In Wall Street terms, this is barely a rounding error. The day before his offer appeared and ran the price of The Journal up, Dow Jones ranked No. 487 in market value among the S&P 500. The New York Times Company with a similar situation but no takeover bid, ranked No. 477. These are not exactly giant companies in terms of Wall Street. They’re giant companies in terms of journalism and a public role. They’re pretty much insignificant in terms of Wall Street.

JAGOW: Well you have some of the controlling shareholder at Dow Jones, some of the Bancroft family, saying they’re going to block this deal, but not everybody. What’s your hunch here about what’s gonna happen?

SLOAN: My hunch — based on nothing, but a hunch — is that at some point Murdoch will lob in a bigger offer and that the Bancrofts will take it. Murdoch is in a unique situation because he really could use The Wall Street Journal as a credibility tool for the business channel he’s launching this fall. Can you imagine what that would do for the value of the business channel? And can you imagine the additional clout, political and financial, that he would have by controlling The Wall Street Journal?

JAGOW: OK Allan, thanks a lot.

SLOAN: My pleasure Scott.

JAGOW: Allan Sloan, the Wall Street editor at Newsweek magazine. In Los Angeles, I’m Scott Jagow. Thanks for listening and enjoy your Monday.

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