'Constructive' WSJ parley

Murdoch, Bancrofts meet on sale

Representatives of Dow Jones & Co. and the Bancroft family that controls it met Monday with News Corp. chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch and colleagues to discuss a possible takeover and how News Corp. would ensure the independence of the publisher's flagship Wall Street Journal.

News Corp. executives declined comment on the meeting, though Murdoch told reporters later that the two sides "had a very long and constructive meeting," according to Reuters.

Dow Jones officials were not immediately available for comment.

Monday's meeting came after Dow Jones said late Thursday that it had agreed to meet Murdoch after the Bancrofts' signaled that they could consider a sale of the company to News Corp. or other parties if certain editorial safeguards are established.

Industry observers expected Murdoch to impress the Bancroft representatives with his industry insights and track record of buying established newspapers like the Times of London and maintaining their quality output.

Murdoch has publicly suggested an independent editorial board as the main committee to oversee key Journal operations. However, the Journal reported Monday that at least some of the Bancrofts are pushing for family control of the editorial board, something Murdoch is expected to oppose as he wants his firm to run the paper if it buys it.

If the Bancrofts and News Corp. agree to certain measures to ensure the Journal's standards of journalistic excellence, Dow Jones and the family are expected to start discussing financial terms of the conglomerate's $5 billion, or $60 per share, takeover bid that was unveiled weeks ago.

So far, no other bidders have emerged. But the Independent Association of Publishers' Employees, a union representing more than 2,000 Dow Jones staffers, said Monday that it has hired advisers to look for alternatives to the News Corp. bid.

Dow Jones shares closed down Monday for the first time in several days, falling 1.7% to $60.16.