Wall Street Journal negotiations gather pace

5.30pm: Dow Jones' board is sounding out the controlling Bancroft family on the latest proposals for safeguarding editorial independence in the event of a sale to Rupert Murdoch. By Katie Allen.

The board of Wall Street Journal owner Dow Jones is sounding out the news group's controlling family on the latest proposals for safeguarding editorial independence in the event of a sale to Rupert Murdoch.

After weeks of wrangling, negotiations over the media mogul's contentious $5bn (£2.5bn) bid are gathering pace and the Dow Jones board has agreed an editorial structure with Mr Murdoch's News Corp.

Members of the Journal's controlling Bancroft family are now poring over the plans, which were drafted by Mr Murdoch and tweaked by the Dow Jones board.

News Corp had refused to work from a draft of such guidelines created by the Bancrofts, viewing their five-point plan as unworkable.

Mr Murdoch's suggested model on how key editors will be guaranteed autonomy is thought to be very similar to the structure he created at the Times and Sunday Times and includes an independent editorial board.

While Dow Jones' board and Mr Murdoch have provisionally agreed on the structure, a sale is still only possible with the support of the Bancrofts.

Family members control about two-thirds of Dow Jones voting rights between them and some have been openly opposed to a sale to News Corp, citing risks to the Journal's editorial integrity.

Still, the family did agree to meet with Mr Murdoch and other News Corp representatives in New York earlier this month and has admitted that Dow Jones' long-term future might best be secured "in combination or collaboration with another organisation".

Once the Dow Jones board has established that the Bancrofts support the plans on editorial independence, discussions with News Corp can move on to price.

Mr Murdoch is offering $60 per Dow Jones share - a premium of 65% over its share price at the time his interest emerged - to get his hands on the Journal, America's second largest newspaper after USA Today.

Contributor

Katie Allen

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