News Corp. pledges to strengthen Dow Jones

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NEW YORK -- News Corp. chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch said Wednesday morning that his conglomerate will look to strengthen key Dow Jones & Co. assets around the world once it completes the hard-won acquisition of the financial news and information powerhouse later this year.

"In combination with News Corporation's assets, The Wall Street Journal and the other Dow Jones operations will be even more formidable competitors as we profitably extend their invaluable information across our print, broadcast and digital platforms around the world," he said in a statement.

Murdoch also lauded Dow Jones as "a vibrant company and one of the world's greatest media franchises, with a portfolio of brands that has no equal in financial information and business journalism."

Dow Jones CEO Richard Zannino Wednesday morning also hailed the expected benefits of the deal, which the two companies said ends up being valued at $5.6 billion.

"It will build on our recent, industry-leading earnings growth and make our company and journalism even stronger as our strengths are leveraged across News Corporation's powerful global distribution and marketing platforms for the benefit of our readers and other customers," he said.

Similarly, Dow Jones chairman M. Peter McPherson explained why the company's board supported the sale to News Corp., saying it "provides outstanding financial value and provides excellent opportunities to the extraordinary Dow Jones franchise."

The key players behind the transaction on Wednesday also addressed the tough and divisive battle that the family that currently controls Dow Jones had to go through.

"I am deeply gratified at the level of support we have received from the Bancroft family and its trustees," Murdoch said. "Given the Bancrofts' long and distinguished history as custodians of Dow Jones, we appreciate how difficult this decision was for some family members. I want to offer the Bancrofts my thanks, and an assurance that our company and my family will be equally strong custodians."

Zannino echoed that sentiment, saying: "We look forward to continuing their legacy."

Dow Jones and News Corp. confirmed that they agreed on an editorial agreement that provides for the establishment of a five-member special committee charged with assuring "the continued journalistic and editorial integrity and independence of Dow Jones' publications and services."

A Bancroft family spokesman said for the clan: "It is our most fervent hope that in the years to come, The Wall Street Journal will continue to enjoy, and deserve, the universal admiration and respect in which it is held all over the world, and that the Journal and Dow Jones's other print and online publications will continue to achieve great things as part of a larger, well-capitalized, global organization committed to upholding the long tradition of journalistic excellence, independence and editorial integrity of which we are all so proud."

The initial members of the committee will be Nicholas Negroponte, co-founder of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Lab, former Associated Press CEO Louis Boccardi, Thomas Bray - former editorial page editor of the Detroit News and a writer for OpinionJournal.com, former Washington state congresswoman Jennifer Dunn and former Tribune Publishing president Jack Fuller.

In a letter to Journal readers, publisher Gordon Crovitz on Wednesday promised: "The same standards of accuracy, fairness and authority will apply to this publication, regardless of ownership."
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