Big Media, Big Changes
As BusinessWeek (MHP ) went to press, it looked as if Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. (NWS ) was nearing a deal to purchase Dow Jones & Co. (DJ ), the publisher of The Wall Street Journal. Such a deal would upset the Big Media status quo across several continents. Here's who wins and loses in a world where News Corp. takes over Dow Jones.
Gets the prize he always wanted pretty quickly, give or take the 20 years or so that he's been talking about it. But maintaining his crown as the King of All Media means making business sense out of great assets that have been lousy investments for years.
LONGTIME DOW JONES SHAREHOLDERS
At press time, the proposed deal scored them $60 for shares in a company many felt might have been worth $40 at top-dollar best. Not bad!
The editor of Murdoch's Times of London, a trusted adviser on this deal, looks likely to expand his portfolio of responsibilities and his sphere of influence to the Journal.
The Washington Post Co. (WPO ) CEO can now leave his office without someone asking him, "So why don't you buy Dow Jones?" every 15 minutes.
BLOOMBERG, REUTERS THOMSON
Thanks to the Journal and the upcoming Fox Business Channel, News Corp. is likely to focus Dow Jones on consumers rather than the data fiends these companies cater to. That may not have been the case under a different owner.
Murdoch is talking expansion, so Journal staffers can feel safer than they might have under a different owner. Then again, News Corp. has never been a great friend of labor.
NEWS CORP. SHAREHOLDERS
News Corp. stock has flatlined of late and may even slip a little if and when the deal goes through. Say what you will about long-term strategic vision, but the market can only view this as a company spending billions on what's primarily a newspaper company.
BUSINESSWEEK/FORTUNE /FORBES/CONDE NAST PORTFOLIO
A recharged Journal sales team means more competition for advertisers. One possible upside: claiming journalistic high ground over Murdoch's WSJ.
WSJ EDITORIAL PAGE
Murdoch has long prized pragmatism and power over ideology. If he does meddle in the Journal's editorial product, his gaze may fall on this bastion of conservatism first.
Remember how upstart Fox News (TWX ) quickly overtook CNN? Then you know why CNBC is nervous. News Corp.'s acquisition of Dow Jones' talent pool creates a formidable rival that could snatch audience and ad dollars away from GE's (GE ) profitable business property. Is there room for two business channels?
NEW YORK TIMES CO.
The sale of Dow Jones can only mean increased scrutiny of this family-controlled media company and of Chairman Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr. And look for a News Corp.-owned Journal to compete harder with The New York Times in the U.S. and the Times Co.'s International Herald Tribune abroad.
PEARSON'S FINANCIAL TIMES
A business daily inside a company moving away from business journalism faces stepped-up competition from WSJ in Europe and Asia. Is a partnership with CNBC possible?
By Jon Fine & Tom Lowry