Media Moves

Murdoch won't let Bancrofts control editorial oversight board

June 3, 2007

Posted by Chris Roush

Dennis Berman and Sarah Ellison of The Wall Street Journal write for Monday’s paper that News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch is unlikely to bend on allowing the Bancroft family, which controls Dow Jones & Co., the Journal’s parent, to control an editorial oversight board of the paper if he is allowed to acquire the company.

Rupert MurdochBerman and Ellison wrote, “Such a board should comprise ‘people with absolutely no business connections to me nor the family,’ Mr. Murdoch said, adding that the family ‘can’t sell [Dow Jones] and keep it’ by joining a newly created board. ‘I can’t put down $5 billion of my shareholders’ money and not be able to run the business,’ Mr. Murdoch said. He stressed that he has ‘no plans to change anything’ on the editorial or news sides of the paper.

“The issue of editorial independence for Dow Jones and its flagship title, The Wall Street Journal, will be paramount when Mr. Murdoch and his second-oldest son, James Murdoch, the CEO of News Corp. affiliate company British Sky Broadcasting, meet Monday with three members of the Bancroft family. The meeting is the first since News Corp. submitted an offer of $60 a share, or $5 billion, for Dow Jones in April. A majority of the family initially said they weren’t interested but Thursday shifted position, acknowledging a willingness to talk to News Corp. and consider any other suitors as well.”

Later, they wrote, “The meeting, which will be held at the offices of family legal adviser Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, is designed as part social gathering and part business meeting, according to people familiar with the plans. One of its main goals is to get the three Bancroft family members attending the meeting — Christopher Bancroft, Leslie Hill and Elizabeth Steele, who are also Dow Jones directors — comfortable with Mr. Murdoch and his family. The Bancrofts will be accompanied by Dow Jones Chairman M. Peter McPherson, family trustee Michael Elefante and attorney Martin Lipton, who is advising the family.”

Read more here.

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