San Francisco / New York: News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch said he will take on The New York Times once his purchase of Dow Jones and Co. is complete, by expanding non-business coverage at The Wall Street Journal (WSJ).
News Corp. will invest in Europe and Asia, and expand international and national coverage to compete with the Times, Murdoch, 76, said on Wednesday in a conference call. Pairing Dow Jones with News Corp.’s marketing and global reach will enhance the brand, he said. The comments, in a conference call with analysts following News Corp.’s fourth-quarter results, were Murdoch’s first on his plans for the Journal since agreeing last week to buy Dow Jones for $5.2 billion (Rs21,008 crore). It reported a 4.5% rise in net profit to $890 million.
News Corp. will sell off Dow Jones’ local newspapers “quickly”, he said, and save more than $150 million by cutting costs. Executives of New York-based News Corp. have discussed making the online version of the Journal free, Murdoch added.
Planning ahead: Rupert Murdoch
With the purchase, Murdoch gets Dow Jones’ Newswires, Marketwatch, the Journal and Barron’s, which will bolster News Corp.’s more than 110 newspapers, stretching from Sydney to New York to London, film and TV studios, and the Fox cable and broadcast networks.
To use Dow Jones material for his new Fox Business Network, scheduled to start on 15 October, some analysts have said Murdoch might have to buy out The Wall Street Journal’s contract to share content with General Electric Co.’s CNBC through 2012.
Murdoch said he won’t negotiate such a buyout, while calling the contract an “obstacle.” He didn’t elaborate. He also said he won’t engage in a price war or cut prices for advertising or subscriptions.
Dow Jones and CNBC compete with Bloomberg Lp. in providing financial news and information.
A divided Bancroft family accepted Murdoch’s offer on 1 August after more than three months of debate over Murdoch’s impact on news coverage at the Journal, which has a daily circulation of 2.06 million. Murdoch pledged to maintain the editorial independence of Dow Jones, winning enough support to complete the purchase when Bancroft family members controlling at least 37% of the company approved the deal. The transaction is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter.
Murdoch also said he was “confident” of better future for the group’s Star business in India under a new management, which would be launching a number of new channels in the next one year. However, the company said its Star division operating profit declined in the fourth quarter as well, as the fiscal year ended 30 June from the year-ago period.
PTI contributed to this story.