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Copyright 2001 Daily News, L.P.  
Daily News (New York)

April 28, 2001, Saturday SPORTS FINAL EDITION


LENGTH: 442 words

HEADLINE: Murdoch: Post could be toast He'd dump tab, if necessary, to gain 2nd local TV station


Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. said it "will sell or shut down" the New York Post if forced to choose between owning the paper or two local TV stations.In a new government filing, Murdoch's lawyers said that, "despite News Corp.'s significant investment in the Post during the past seven years, the Post continues to incur losses."

The money-losing paper "accounts for approximately only 4% of advertising dollars spent on the top five daily newspapers" in the region, News Corp. said in a striking admission.

News Corp. made the revelations while continuing to seek government approval of its plan to buy Chris-Craft Industries, a purchase that would give Murdoch - who already owns WNYW/Channel 5 - a second local TV station, WWOR/Channel 9.

However, the planned addition of WWOR to Murdoch's media empire has complicated his Chris-Craft acquisition because federal law prohibits joint ownership of a TV station and a newspaper in the same market.

Murdoch has been allowed to operate WNYW and the Post under a 1993 waiver to the so-called cross-ownership ban of the Federal Communications Commission. The waiver was approved after the Post's previous owner was in bankruptcy.

Now, News Corp. is asking the FCC to approve the Chris-Craft deal and allow the company to retain the Post, pending the outcome of a separate proceeding on whether the cross-ownership ban should be relaxed in certain markets.

Mortimer Zuckerman, chairman and co-publisher of the Daily News, said recently that he or his "affiliates would be prepared to make a bid to purchase the New York Post" if News Corp. were forced by the FCC to unload the tabloid before the agency approved the Chris-Craft deal.

"In the event I or my affiliates so purchase the New York Post, we would be prepared to operate it as an editorially independent newspaper, subject to the execution of a Joint Operating Agreement or similar arrangement with the Daily News," Zuckerman wrote in response to a query from lawyers representing groups challenging the Chris-Craft deal.

Speaking this week at Columbia University, Murdoch said the cross-ownership rule was no longer necessary because there were enough competing media outlets in the New York area.

The challengers to his Chris-Craft deal include the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, Consumers Union, Black Citizens for a Fair Media, the New York Metropolitan Association of the United Church of Christ and others.

Next week, Col Allan, an Australian newspaperman who has worked for Murdoch for more than two decades, will join the Post as its editor in chief. In replacing Xana Antunes, he will be the tabloid's third top editor in two years.

LOAD-DATE: April 28, 2001

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