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KAI RYSSDAL: The world’s most popular business newspaper goes on sale in the U.K. later this month. The U.S. edition of the Wall Street Journal is going to be printed and sold in London for the first time. Europe’s had its own version of the paper for about 25 years. But the prospect of the American edition showing up is different. It’s being seen as a predatory move by the Journal’s new boss — a guy named Rupert Murdoch. From the European Desk, Marketplace’s Stephen Beard reports on the opening salvo of a new circulation war.
JUSTIN URQUHART-STEWART: Good morning, can I have the Financial Times, please?
VENDOR: One pound, 50.
STEPHEN BEARD: Every working day fund manager Justin Urquart-Stewart religiously picks up a copy of the Financial Times. So do more than 100,000 other workers here in the so-called Square Mile, the heart of London’s financial district.
URQUHART-STEWART: The Financial Times isn’t the normal, commercial paper. It’s actually part of our industry. If you’re actually going to be in the Square Mile, you’re gonna have to have the Financial Times. It’s part of our language. Everybody will have the FT.
Part Bible, part parish magazine it may be, but nothing’s sacred in newspaper publishing. The FT’s dominance here could soon be under attack from the world’s best-selling financial paper.
TIM LAFFERTY: Well, we’re really excited about launching the U.S. edition of the Wall Street Journal in London.
Tim Lafferty, European sales director for Dow Jones. He says the U.S. version of the Journal should prove highly popular in London, especially this year.
LAFFERTY: With the credit crisis, which will continue to roll, but also, of course, the U.S. elections in November. You know, I don’t think there is anyone that is going to cover that story better than the Wall Street Journal.
BEARD: Is this an attack on the Financial Times in its heartland?
LAFFERTY: Absolutely not. This is just about offering readers choice.
The FT, usually eager to offer an opinion about everyone else’s business does not wish to comment. But the paper, whose motto is “Without Fear, Without Favor,” should be shaking in its shoes, says media analyst Chris Horrie. Murdoch is gunning for the FT.
CHRIS HORRIE: He will attack their distribution. He will attack their revenue streams. He’ll attack their advertising. And they need to hunker down for a very serious battle.
Horrie says the FT is one of the Journal’s most serious rivals in the global market for business information, in print and online:
HORRIE: War has been declared on a global basis as to which will be the premier, reliable brand for business news and information in the 21st century. That’s an enormous prize.
He says undermining the FT on its home turf is part of that strategy. A senior executive in Murdoch’s parent company has been quoted saying: “We will crush the Financial Times.”
In London, this is Stephen Beard for Marketplace.
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