Murdoch-Bancroft talks back on track


There's no guarantee that a deal will be done, but the Wall Street Journal – which has been closely following the bidding for its parent company – says News Corporation is back in intense negotiations with Dow Jones & Co. after the talks nearly broke down on Friday. News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch reportedly complained that some portions of a proposal to maintain the editorial independence of the Wall Street Journal were "insulting."

According to the WSJ, Murdoch was so incensed that News Corp. lawyers drew up a letter withdrawing the 60 bucks per share offer for Dow Jones, but it was never sent. Instead, the two sides agreed to keep talking. The Dow Jones proposal called for a seven-member "Special Committee on Editorial and Journalistic Independence and Integrity," with two members appointed by the Bancroft family, which has controlled Dow Jones for 100 years, two appointed by News Corp. and three independent members chosen by the Bancrofts and approved by News Corp. In response, News Corp. proposed a larger board, but with News Corp. having more control over the nominating process – and eliminating the board's proposed power to overrule News Corp. on selecting the publisher of the WSJ and managing editor of Dow Jones Newswires.

SmartMedia observation: The wrangling over editorial control of the WSJ has proven to be a much bigger issue than the price, since no one else has stepped up to even match the 60 bucks a share (a total of five billion) offered by Murdoch. Should the Bancrofts not come to terms with Murdoch, they are going to face some very angry shareholders.