170 Cancel 'WSJ' Subscriptions -- But How Many Will Follow?

By: E&P Staff At least 170 subscribers to the Wall Street Journal have canceled their orders since word emerged that Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. will soon take over the newspaper.

The paper does have 1.7 million print subscribers left.

An article in the Journal today by Martin Peers added that other readers had "voiced their displeasure with the deal in emails."

An excerpt from the article follows.

News Corp. executives are expected to spend that time pondering strategies for Dow Jones's businesses and the makeup of management. There has been speculation Mr. Murdoch may want to name Times of London editor Robert Thomson to a senior role, helping to oversee the Journal. A person close to News Corp. said Mr. Thomson is likely to "play a part" at the Journal but it wasn't clear exactly how.

At the same time, there are questions about the future of existing Dow Jones executives, particularly Publisher Gordon Crovitz. Mr. Murdoch has the flexibility to appoint his own publisher: The post isn't covered by an editorial-independence agreement negotiated by Dow Jones, which prevents Mr. Murdoch from unilaterally replacing certain other top executives, such as the managing editor. A person close to the situation said Mr. Murdoch has no intention of replacing any of the senior management. "I'd certainly like to stay," Mr. Crovitz said.

Also in the spotlight is [CEO Richard] Zannino, who told staff yesterday he hopes to stay at Dow Jones under its new owner. A person familiar with the matter said Mr. Murdoch likes Mr. Zannino and wants him to stay as CEO of Dow Jones.

Once the deal closes, Mr. Murdoch is expected to spend much of his time dealing with Dow Jones, reflecting his habit of focusing intently on new businesses for a period of time before shifting his attention elsewhere.

While the editorial-independence agreement is aimed at stopping Mr. Murdoch from interfering with the Journal's coverage, the News Corp. chairman is free to voice his opinion about the newspaper, Mr. Zannino told employees yesterday. Numerous journalists both at the Journal and elsewhere have raised concerns about Mr. Murdoch's history of interfering in his newspapers, but Mr. Zannino emphasized that the editorial agreement had enforcement provisions that blocked Mr. Murdoch from making changes at the paper unilaterally.

"Nobody can make us do what we don't want to do," Mr. Zannino said.

CNBC says it expects its contract "to be honored."


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