Murdoch says Dow Jones price 'worth paying'
EmptyNEW YORK, June 28 -- Rupert Murdoch sees his lofty $5 billion offer to buy Dow Jones & Co. Inc. "worth paying" to empower a global network of cable, print and digital operations, including an upcoming business news cable channel, according to a Time magazine interview on Thursday.
Murdoch, the chief executive of global media conglomerate News Corp., has long coveted the publisher of the Wall Street Journal newspaper, seen as one of the world's most reputable business news source.
But it was not until News Corp. planned to take on General Electric Co.'s CNBC channel with the upcoming Fox Business Channel, that Murdoch rationalized offering to pay $60 per share, a 65% premium, for an "economically stagnant" newspaper publisher, Time reported on its Web site.
Murdoch aims to use Dow Jones' editorial operations to fuel the new U.S. channel, scheduled to launch at the end of this year, and other operations such as Sky News channel in Europe.
"We'll see our business news and information in print, we'll sell it to anyone who's got a cable system, and we'll sell it on the Web," Murdoch said in Time. "It almost ensures the price is worth paying."
Murdoch said he also saw the Wall Street Journal competing with the New York Times newspaper to set the U.S. news agenda.
He speculated about ways to to make the Journal a global newspaper, such as investing $100 million a year to hire top business journalists or eliminating print editions.
"No printing plants, no paper, no trucks. How long would it take for the advertising to come?" Murdoch said. "It would be successful, it would work and you'd make ... a little bit of money. Then again, the Journal and the Times make very little money now."
At the same time, resistance from the Bancroft family, which controls Dow Jones through ownership of 64% of its voting shares, is more challenging, he said.
"The price of the Journal ... is $60 plus vitriol," Murdoch said.
Journalism watchdogs and the Bancrofts fear Murdoch's tabloid tendencies and a belief that he uses his media properties to advance commercial interests that would destroy the Journal's reputation.
Murdoch disputed some of the claims, including one where his StarTV had dropped the BBC to appease the Chinese government. He admitted to having made some mistakes, such as the spiking of a memoir by Chris Patten, the last governor of Hong Kong who was also unpopular with Chinese officials.
"It's been a long career, and I've made some mistakes along the way," he said in the Time interview. "We're not all virgins."
Murdoch also confirmed reports that News Corp. had held exploratory talks with Yahoo Inc. to swap the MySpace Internet social network for a 25% stake in Yahoo, fearing MySpace was showing signs of saturation.
"Terry Semel was enthusiastic about it," Murdoch told Time, referring to discussions with the former CEO of Yahoo. "We were looking to see if it was a good idea. I wasn't sure."