NEW YORK: It is no coincidence, believe some cynical commentators, that when Rupert Murdoch went Fox-hunting in 1986 he targeted a movie and TV business of that name. It suggests, they say, a vulpine affinity.

Since the initial outright rejection of News Corporation's $5 billion (€3.68bn; £2.51bn) takeover bid [WARC News: 03-May-07] by Dow Jones' two controlling families, the Australian-American mogul has treated the media world to a display of unfamiliar traits - contrition, empathy and charm - that would not have disgraced Br'er Fox.

In a conference call with analysts last week, Murdoch declared his sorrow that his foray into the Dow Jones chicken run had created such a furore. He had hoped, he said, to negotiate the acquisition "in a private setting" but had been forced into the public arena after news of the offer was "leaked".

He declared himself a "great admirer" of the Bancroft family, Dow Jones' largest and controlling shareholder. It appears, however, that the admiration is not mutual. Although Murdoch and "his children" had tried to set up a meeting with the Bancrofts, the latter had unsociably declined.

The media industry's most relentless practitioner, now in considerate mode, declined to say more about the Dow Jones bid offer "out of deference to the family and their right to deliberate in private".

Foxes, unlike leopards, have no cause to change their spots.

Data sourced from Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff