News Corp. (NWS) is willing to go further than it has before in acceding to tighter safeguards of editorial independence as a condition of buying Dow Jones & Co. Inc. (DJ), The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday, citing sources close to News Corp.
Still, News Corp. chief Rupert Murdoch is not willing to give the Bancroft family any editorial control over the company if the family agrees to his offer to buy Dow Jones for $5 billion, he told the Journal in an interview on Friday.
"I can't put down $5 billion of my shareholders' money and not be able to run the business," Murdoch said in the interview. He also told the Journal he has "no plans to change anything" at the editorial or news sides of the paper.
The comments come ahead of a meeting scheduled for Monday between News Corp. and several key members of the Bancroft family, which holds 64 percent of voting power in Dow Jones.
The meeting is intended to try to assuage some of the family's concerns about Murdoch's commitment to editorial independence, particularly at the Journal.
In preparation for the meeting, senior Dow Jones news executives advised members of the controlling family on how to preserve editorial independence, the Journal said.
Bancroft family trustee and Dow Jones board member Michael Elefante set up two conference calls late last week with the executives, the Journal reported.
The executives included Journal publisher Gordon Crovitz, editorial page editor Paul Gigot and the new managing editor, Marcus Brauchli.
It also included Clare Hart, head of the Dow Jones Enterprise Media Group, which includes Dow Jones Newswires and the Factiva online news archive, as well as Newswires managing editor Neal Lipschutz. Also included was John Wilcox, who heads up the group that oversees Dow Jones's local newspapers.
None of the executives returned e-mailed messages seeking comment. A spokesman for Brauchli released a statement that said editorial independence is the Journal's most important asset.
"Our integrity is the wellspring of our value to readers, and we're grateful that both the Bancroft family and Rupert Murdoch appreciate this and are focused on preserving it," Brauchli said. "I will do everything I can to ensure that the Journal's news department remains independent and vital."
A Dow Jones spokeswoman had no immediate comment.
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