Dow Jones board takes control of talks with News Corp. from Bancroft family

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Wall Street Journal publisher Dow Jones & Co. said Wednesday that its board would take over discussions from the Bancroft family, Dow Jones' controlling shareholders, about a potential acquisition by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.

The announcement came as the far-flung Bancroft family had been hashing out a proposal for News Corp. to set up safeguards to ensure the continued editorial independence of The Wall Street Journal.

The family, which controls Dow Jones' shareholder vote through a class of supervoting shares, has indicated that preserving the Journal's integrity as a news source was its top priority.

After initially rebuffing Murdoch's US$5 billion overture in early May, the Bancroft family agreed to meet with him June 5.

Both sides described the meeting as constructive, but no subsequent meeting was set up, and the family had been expected to deliver proposals to News Corp. on ways to ensure that the Journal remain free from corporate influences.

A union that represents Dow Jones employees and a former board member, Jim Ottaway Jr., say they are concerned that the Journal's coverage might weaken under Murdoch and favor News Corp.'s corporate interests.

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