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Director resigns over deal

NEW YORK -- German publishing executive Dieter von Holtzbrinck has resigned from Dow Jones & Co.'s board to protest a deal to sell the company, which publishes The Wall Street Journal, to Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.

In a letter to other directors, von Holtzbrinck wrote that he was "very worried" the company's "unique journalistic values will long-term strongly suffer after the proposed sale."

Dow Jones's board endorsed the $5 billion buyout offer from News Corp. late Tuesday. The proposal has gone to the company's controlling shareholders, the Bancroft family, for a decision. They are expected to meet Monday and take several days to consider the offer.

Von Holtzbrinck was reported to have abstained from the board's vote, as did Leslie Hill, a Bancroft family member who also serves as a director. Christopher Bancroft, another family member and director, was reported to have left the meeting early.

Murdoch's bid to acquire Dow Jones has met with stiff resistance in several quarters, including a union representing Journal reporters, several members of the Bancroft family, and former board member Jim Ottaway Jr., who together with his brother David controls 7 percent of the company's shareholder vote.

The union and Ottaway have said they fear Murdoch will bend the Journal's news coverage to suit his corporate interests.

The Bancroft family insisted upon, and received, a commitment from News Corp. to establish a committee whose approval would be needed to hire or fire top editors.

"I cannot prove that my worries are right," von Holtzbrinck said in his letter. "I can only refer to News Corp. business practices in the past, can only refer to Jim Ottaway's article in the Journal, etc. I do not believe that the 'Special Committee' can finally prevent Murdoch from doing what he wants to do, from acting his way."

Murdoch has said that concerns about editorial interference are unjustified.

He said he plans to invest in the Journal, including its Washington coverage, online operations, and presence overseas.

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