'Journal' to Make Murdoch Bigger U.S. Player The purchase of The Wall Street Journal greatly expands Rupert Murdoch's reach into the American media market and gives him something he has long sought — a platform for competing head-to-head with big papers like The New York Times.
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'Journal' to Make Murdoch Bigger U.S. Player

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'Journal' to Make Murdoch Bigger U.S. Player

'Journal' to Make Murdoch Bigger U.S. Player

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

It's done. That was the headline uttered by Rupert Murdoch yesterday on the deal he reached to buy The Wall Street Journal and its parent company, Dow Jones. The purchase of the Journal greatly expands Murdoch's reach into the American media market. And it gives him something he has long sought: a platform for competing head-to-head with big papers like the New York Times.

NPR's David Folkenflik has been following this story and joins us now. Good morning.

DAVID FOLKENFLIK: Good morning, Renee.

MONTAGNE: What is the grand strategy here? That is, does Rupert Murdoch have a grand strategy?

FOLKENFLIK: Well, that's the fair question to ask after a $5 billion purchase. And the answer is, it's not clear that he has a grand strategy beyond the fact that he really wants to own the Wall Street Journal, one of the real jewels of American journalism, and has for a long time. He's often said it's his favorite paper. That said, this plays into a couple of goals that he has, you know. He is about to launched a Fox Business Channel that will be a sister station to General Electric's, excuse me, to Fox News Channel and will go head-to-head with GE's CNBC. He really wants to make News Corp. not just a company with a bunch of properties in different countries, but truly a news corporation with global reach.

And he wants to create a much stronger Web presence for News Corp., maybe a little more unified with a lot more information coursing through. Dow Jones, the parent company of the Wall Street Journal, owns not only the Wall Street Journal but the Dow Jones news services - Barron's, a financial publication. This has a lot of different ways to have financial news and non-financial news come coursing through.

MONTAGNE: Well, obviously, the Wall Street Journal could play into a new business channel. But precisely how might that work?

FOLKENFLIK: Well, the new channel is supposed to launch - it'll be available initially in 30 million homes, starting in October. And beyond that, we don't know precisely what he has in mind, as News Corp. officials are being very tight lipped about it. But, you know, ultimately, Murdoch wants to see the journalists of particularly the Wall Street Journal appear, giving the channel incredible credibility in the business world of investors, in markets, among professionals and also among private investors.

One of the key things is that Fox Business Channel will have to differentiate itself both in tone and in content from CNBC, which, until recently, sort of is having the market to itself. An effort by CNN, you know, fell apart. It was not able to create a viable channel as rival. With the credibility and the depth of the Wall Street Journal, and of it sister news services from Dow Jones, it can have a tremendous amount of material play into that. The telegenic and TV savvy members of the Wall Street Journal staff can appear. And others can simply feed their information, at times probably even their scoops, to the Fox Business cable channel first.

MONTAGNE: But David, you mentioned CNBC. Doesn't it have an exclusive agreement with the Wall Street Journal for several years to come?

FOLKENFLIK: That's right, until 2012. And General Electric has made clear they intend to hold Dow Jones to that. But even at 76 years old, Rupert Murdoch takes the long view. He thinks he's going to get his people on the air pretty quickly.

MONTAGNE: Okay. So to finish, how will this expanded media empire work? What impact will it have on the U.S. media market?

FOLKENFLIK: Well, the Journal is going to, you know, if the investments that Murdoch has promised will come, it will go head-to-head with the New York Times. You're going to see it also go head-to-head with the Financial Times in Europe. And you're going to see it promoted on his satellite and television properties across the globe in China, in Asia, India, in Europe and the U.S.

MONTAGNE: David, thanks very much. NPR's David Folkenflik.

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