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ECONOMICS REPORT - Murdoch's News Corp to Buy Dow Jones

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This is the VOA Special English Economics Report.

One of the top stories in business news this week was -- business news. Dow Jones agreed to be bought by News Corporation. This means the publisher of the Wall Street Journal will be owned by the media company controlled by Rupert Murdoch.

Rupert Merdoch
Rupert Merdoch

The two companies announced Wednesday that they have signed a merger agreement. The deal is valued at just over five and a half billion dollars.

For the past century, the controlling shareholder in Dow Jones and Company has been the Bancroft family. The announcement said family members with about thirty-seven percent of Dow Jones' voting stock have agreed to support the deal. That would represent a majority of the sixty-four percent share owned by the family.

The deal ends four months of negotiations that deeply divided the Bancrofts. Reports say family members agreed to the deal after a promise of at least thirty million dollars to pay their lawyers and financial advisors.

Rupert Murdoch's offer to buy Dow Jones became public in May. His offer of sixty dollars a share was sixty-seven percent above the market price at the time of the offer.

The deal is seen as a major prize for the Australian-born Murdoch, who became an American citizen in nineteen eighty-five. He has built a media business currently valued at seventy billion dollars. His company owns more than one hundred newspapers in Australia, Britain and the United States.

It also owns Fox television, including Fox News Channel, "American Idol" and "The Simpsons." A new Fox Business Channel is set for launch in October. Other holdings include the Twentieth Century Fox movie company and the social-networking site MySpace.

Shareholders in News Corporation and Dow Jones are expected to vote on the deal later this year. Government approval is also needed.

Financial news is an increasingly competitive industry. Rupert Murdoch is expected to invest heavily in Dow Jones and the Wall Street Journal. Media observers are debating what effects his ownership might have on one of the world's most respected newspapers.

Some say News Corporation might try to limit reporting on its own activities. Others note Rupert Murdoch's conservative politics and wonder what influence that might have. A five-member committee has been named to protect the newsgathering independence of the Journal and other Dow Jones publications.

And that's the VOA Special English Economics Report, written by Mario Ritter. I'm Steve Ember.

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