Dow Jones: Gotcha!

01 August 2007

NEW YORK: To echo the triumphal headline of Rupert Murdoch's noxious UK tabloid The Sun (on news that a British submarine had sunk an Argentine warship with the loss of 323 lives during the 1982 Falklands War): "Gotcha!"

But it was with a whimper, not a bang, that Dow Jones' 35-strong ruling Bancroft family on Tuesday surrendered control of their ship to News Corporation for $5 billion (€3.65bn; £2.46bn) - plus reimbursement of their legal and banking bills, thought to be upward of $30m.

NewsCorp will assume these liabilities when it buys Dow Jones. The figure excludes fees incurred by the DJ board, which had its own advisers.

Opponents of the deal called it a dark day for journalism. Leslie Hill, a family member who opposed the deal, resigned as a Dow Jones director late Tuesday afternoon.

In a letter to the board, she conceded the deal was a good one in financial terms, but said it failed to outweigh "the loss of an independent global news organization with unmatched credibility and integrity."

One Bancroft family representative will sit on News Corporation's board of directors, and a committee will be set-up to protect Dow Jones' journalistic independence.

A structure reminiscent of the protective measures promised for Britain's Times Newspapers, these days a Murdoch megaphone, when in 1981 it was sold by another ruling family - the Thomson clan of Canada.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online. additional content by WARC staff