Bancroft Family to Meet With Rupert Murdoch to Discuss Dow Jones Bid

Cites 'Evolving Competitive Environment' as Challenge to Remaining Independent

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Dow Jones last night said its controlling Bancroft family will sit down with Rupert Murdoch after all to discuss his $5 billion offer to buy the company. What was doubly surprising and suggestive for the media business, however, was the family's rationale.
The Bancroft family, which controls Dow Jones, will meet with News Corp. boss Rupert Murdoch.
The Bancroft family, which controls Dow Jones, will meet with News Corp. boss Rupert Murdoch. Credit: AP

"After a detailed review of the business of Dow Jones and the evolving competitive environment in which it operates," a Bancroft representative said in its statement, "the family has reached consensus that the mission of Dow Jones may be better accomplished in combination or collaboration with another organization, which may include News Corporation."

That's right -- conditions in the media world have become so competitive and so uncertain that the owner of powerhouses like The Wall Street Journal, Barron's, MarketWatch and Dow Jones Newswires isn't sure it can remain independent much longer. And the same family that flatly said "No, thanks" to Mr. Murdoch last month has decided that News Corp. might make a great owner after all.

The decision to meet with Mr. Murdoch doesn't, however, eliminate the obstacles that have made his offer seem so iffy thus far, including the possibility that his ownership would devalue the Journal brand. The Journal can charge premium ad rates partly because of its perceived editorial integrity; Mr. Murdoch is known, on the other hand, for making his influence felt in his properties' news coverage.

The Bancrofts acknowledged as much yesterday, explaining in their statement that the purpose of the meeting is "solely" to discuss concerns about journalistic integrity that were provoked by his bid.

The family also said it would consider any offers or proposals from other comers, but Mr. Murdoch deliberately priced his bid high enough -- $60 a share -- to discourage many other contenders for the whole company.
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