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Murdoch steps up interest in Dow Jones capture

LONDON - Rupert Murdoch has offered The Wall Street Journal's owners, the Bancroft family, seats on the News Corporation board as part of his $5bn (£2.5bn) attempt to win control of Dow Jones.

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Murdoch, the News Corp chief executive, who last week said he "would not meddle" with editorial operations at The Wall Street Journal in the event of a successful bid, has stepped up plans to buy Dow Jones & Company by offering the Bancroft family seats on the News Corp board and to create an independent editorial board for the journal.

In a letter to the Bancroft family, Murdoch said, "maintaining the heritage of independence and journalistic integrity would be of utmost importance to me and to News Corp". He added that interfering with operations at The Wall Street Journal would undermine public trust and "simply be bad business."

However, editorial staff at The Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones shareholders have written to the Bancrofts to express concerns that News Corps' unsolicited bid for the company would "crush quality and independence" at the journal.

Correspondents at journal's Beijing bureau have claimed Murdoch "has a well documented history of making editorial order to advance his business", adding that the journal's coverage of the Chinese government would be compromised in the event of a News Corp takeover.

It is understood that around 80% of the Bancroft family oppose a takeover from News Corp, but others have said they would be interested in meeting Murdoch for talks.

The Dow Jones board is due to meet tomorrow to discuss News Corp's offer, but the 35-strong Bancroft family, which owns 64.2% of Dow Jones shares, is said to be divided over any possible sale.

Murdoch has stated he would keep chief executive of Dow Jones, Richard Zannino, and newly appointed managing editor of The Wall Street Journal, Marcus Brauchli, on board in the event of a sale, pledging more resources and investment for Dow Jones' journalism.

However, he conceded a News Corp takeover "would not be a holiday camp for everybody."

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