Rupert Murdoch’s bid for Newsday, the New York suburban daily, is now facing a rival bid from Mort Zuckerman, the wealthy New York real-estate developer, who owns the New York Daily News, the main rival to Murdoch’s New York Post.
Zuckerman is reported to have made a matching bid to Murdoch’s – that is $580 million.
At the same time Murdoch, even if his bid is accepted, faces one other hurdle. This time it’s political. For many years US government regulations have prevented any one media company from monopolising a specific city or area of the country.
Recently, because of the parlous state of American media, the rule has been rarely enforced. Also the Wall Street Journal, which News Corp recently acquired, is not regarded as a local newspaper.
Zuckerman does not have the same problem. He does not own any television stations. Murdoch’s News Corp owns two – one in New York, one in neighbouring New Jersey.
At the moment Murdoch has only a “handshake” agreement to acquire Newsday. If the deal goes through it is more likely to affect the Daily News than any other paper.
The two tabloids have been going at each other hammer and tongs for a long time. Only recently did the NY Post overtake The News in circulation but it’s still marginally thin.
No one is underestimating Murdoch’s ability to circumnavigate rules and regulations.
One solution might be for News Corp to give up one of its two TV stations. The one in New Jersey has been under criticism for some time for its alleged paucity of local news. Its licence is also up for renewal.
The Tribune Company of Chicago, which owns Newsday, has admitted it is in great need of money, which is the reason it put Newsday on the market.
If Zuckerman has the cash and no regulatory problems he has an advantage that could enable him to swing the deal, suggested a leading newspaper analyst John Morton.