Dow Jones and Murdoch: be afraid, be very afraid

The Business has reported that Murdoch has got his Dow Jones deal to take over the Wall Street Journal with only some loose ends to tie up. Note this part of the story:

‘The arrangement [to protect editorial independence] is a tougher version of the one put in place by the British government when Murdoch bought The Times and The Sunday Times in 1981. Murdoch will have less control over the independent directors at the Journal than he does at Times Newspapers, where they are regarded as weak and ineffectual. But one source, acting for the Bancrofts, admitted privately that the Dow independent panel was only a “fig leaf” to facilitate the sale and that over time Murdoch would get round it.

‘John Biffen, the Tory cabinet minister who signed off on 1981 deal to establish independent directors for Times Newspapers in London, has since conceded that the arrangement was also a “fig leaf” designed to allow the sale to proceed.’

The report was written by Andrew Neil and James Forsyth. Neil should know about such things – he was editor of the Sunday Times under Murdoch.

Murdoch forced out Harry Evans, editor of the Times, even though he had appointed him from the Sunday Times. According to Murdoch, Evans went from being a great editor on the Sunday to a bad one on the daily. Does the same fate await Robert Thomson, who lost out in the race for editorship of the Financial Times, but was taken on by Murdoch as Times editor and is now tipped for the top job at the Wall St Journal?

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