Murdoch Refutes China Accusations

25 May 2007

NEW YORK: Rupert Murdoch appears to have been stung by allegations that criticism of China's repressive regime has been soft-pedalled by his media outlets, their editorial integrity subjugated to his business interests.

The claims were made by seven China-based members of the Wall Street Journal's editorial staff, in an attempt to persuade the paper's controlling families not to sell parent company Dow Jones, following a $5 billion (€3.68bn; £2.51bn) sounding by Murdoch's News Corporation fiefdom.

In an interview with the UK's Financial Times, the media mogul emphatically denied kowtowing to Beijing when he decided to cancel publication of Chris Patten's memoirs of his stint as Hong Kong governor, and to drop BBC news in China from his Hong Kong-based Star TV satellite channel.

He claims both decisions were made on purely commercial grounds. He did not believe the Patten book would sell well and "Star was losing $100m per year; we had to pay $10m per year to the BBC."

He added: "We also cancelled two other third-party channels - MTV and Prime Sports. At that stage we never ever had any request from anybody in China. Indeed, there was no discourse at all."

The Bancroft family that controls Dow Jones has rejected NewsCorp's bid and, following a meeting on Wednesday, appears to be standing firm.

Data sourced from Financial Times online; additional content by WARC staff