In Which I Disagree With Rupert Murdoch, And Raise A Slightly-Related Question

Posted by: Jon Fine on April 3, 2008

Media regulation in the US has been wacky lately. And, for some reason, no matter how battered newspapers are, how déclassé they are for the younger set and the investor set,nothing gets the citizenry’s juices stirring more than the idea of MASSIVE OWNERSHIP CHANGES of its beloved local papers.

That said, I totally disagree with Rupert Murdoch here:

Mr. Murdoch said adding Newsday "will make the New York Post viable and give it a much more secure future." However, he said the antitrust division of the U.S. Justice Department "may not let us have it."

This might be true if Newsday and the New York Post’s markets actually had serious overlap, instead of the Post being strong in Manhattan and Newsday being strong in Long Island and Queens. (“Strong” for the Post is kind of misleading, since it’s widely believed to lose eight-figure sums annually.) Like it or not, there’s some precedent to newspaper owners buying suburban-market dailies when they own adjacent metros; to cite just one example witness how Dean Singleton’s Media News Group owns the Oakland Tribune, the San jose mercury News, and other smaller dailies in and around the Bay area.

There is a kind of Kremlinology involved in parsing some of Rupert Murdoch’s public comments. I would be telling a very big lie if I said I was skilled at it, and the last thing I want to do is to fall into the tired line of thinking that credits Murdoch with playing chess in 3-D while the rest of us have yet to slip our surly two-dimensional bonds, etc.

That said, I do think there’s some kind of complicated head fake behind his statement about the Department of Justice.

On a slightly different topic: The US edition of the Wall Street Journal will now be available in London on the same day it's published in the US.

What do we think this means to the Financial Times, the UK-based, pink-sheeted business daily?

 

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