Competition among New York dailies is notoriously fierce, but for all its pluses and minuses, this competition has fortunately led to a plurality of voices. What will happen, then, if two of the biggest names in the New York newspaper industry become one?
Rupert Murdoch, the media mogul behind News Corporation, is reportedly setting his eyes on the New York Daily News, the second-largest daily in the state when it comes to circulation and profitability. The reports came after News Corp. announced its recent acquisitions of the Brooklyn Paper, the TimesLedger and the Courier-Life. The newspaper groups are all based in New York, fueling speculations that the Daily News of real estate tycoon Mort Zuckerman will be next.
Strategic Investing in New York News Industry
“I believe [the acquisition] is something that is being looked at very seriously, although very quietly [inside News Corp.],” says Baldwin, New York media appraiser Kevin Kamen. “Obviously, I can’t say it is definitely happening, but I think it is being considered by Murdoch for sure. Nobody should be surprised, although everyone will be.”
“There is a strategy there,” Kamen adds, referring to the recent acquisitions of three NY-based newspaper groups by Murdoch. “He’s building up the scenery, if you will, the support system.”
If and when the Daily News falls into Murdoch’s hands, News Corp. will have a new addition to its growing list of media assets. This prestigious list currently includes the New York Post, the Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones and the Fox group of broadcasting resources, television networks and movie outfits.
It is an astounding collection of media resources and people are worried about the influence Murdoch will have. Without one of the big names in the competition, influence and profit will go up for the New York Post.
Daily News Acquisition, Total Fiction?
For now at least, the scenario is more of a big “if” than a “when.” Zuckerman, who last year was embroiled in a stiff bidding war with Murdoch when Newsday went for sale, is not obligated or willing to sell his papers. Zuckerman called Kamen’s predictions “total fiction” and added that “The Daily News is not for sale, has never been for sale and will not be for sale.”
However, as more and more papers are shutting down due to the economic slowdown and the emergence of the so-called new media, Zuckerman may reconsider. Back in 2008, Murdoch and Zuckerman were involved in a series of negotiations to merge the operations of their newspapers. The planned merger was reported as a “money-saving collaboration” between the two news outlets and grew out of their failed attempts to acquire Newsday. This at least proves that the possibility of these news tycoons working together does exist. Newsday, incidentally, went to Cablevision for $650 million.
In addition, the Daily News is “sliding into the red.” Despite being No. 2 in circulation, the Daily News is losing its subscribers and profits to online news channels. Zuckerman remains optimistic and believes that the downward trend of the Daily News will be abetted by a new color printing plant.
“I think this is inevitable,” Kamen says. “Murdoch is never going to have an opportunity to buy the Times, but if he can put together a proposal that’s reasonable for the Daily News, I believe Zuckerman will listen.” Will he? And will it be good for the news? Read what the Predicto Mobile community thinks here and join the discussion.