updated 7/10/2007 4:46:59 PM ET 2007-07-10T20:46:59

If News Corp.’s proposed $5 billion purchase of Dow Jones & Co. succeeds, antitrust lawyers predict it would sail through regulatory review because Rupert Murdoch’s global media empire is not concentrated in any particular product or region.

The acquisition of The Wall Street Journal’s parent company could likely be approved in 30 days or less, the shortest review possible under antitrust law, says Robert Litan, a former Justice Department antitrust official who is now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

Among other holdings, News Corp. owns the Fox broadcast network, Fox News Channel, the Twentieth Century Fox movie and TV studio and has a one-third stake in satellite provider DirecTV. The company also owns the New York Post and the online social hangout site MySpace.

The sprawling nature of Murdoch’s holdings works to his advantage, several experts said, and certainly could be by design.

“It’s a sensible way of dealing with the regulatory restraints” that can impede cross-ownership of newspapers or television stations, said Richard Liebeskind, a former antitrust lawyer at the Federal Trade Commission who is now in private practice.

Murdoch’s company has extensive overseas holdings, including satellite broadcasters in Europe and Asia, newspapers in the United Kingdom and Australia and book publishing and magazine properties.

“The Bush administration has not been zealous in challenging mergers as it is,” Litan says. “I just can’t see them going after this one.”

If Dow Jones owns a minor property that competes with a News Corp. holding, Murdoch likely would sell it to ease regulatory concerns, he added.

Murdoch wants the Journal and the global Dow Jones newswire enough to let go of other holdings if needed, according to several lawyers who spoke about the transaction on the condition of anonymity because News Corp. is a client of their firms.

The deal likely also would not face significant challenges from the Federal Communications Commission, lawyers said.

Federal cross-ownership rules prohibit the same entity from owning both a television station and a newspaper in the same local market. While News Corp. owns two local stations in New York, the Journal isn’t considered a local New York City paper under a previous FCC ruling, two Washington-based lawyers said.

In addition to the Journal and the wire service, Dow Jones also owns the Factiva news database, Barron’s weekly financial tabloid, a group of community newspapers and several well-known stock market indicators, including the Dow Jones industrial average.

If News Corp. and Dow Jones come to an agreement, they would be required to file a notification with the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission. Transactions valued above $60 million have to notify those agencies and automatically undergo a 30-day review.

The agencies usually divide antitrust reviews on a case-by-case basis. Justice would likely review a News Corp.-Dow Jones deal, as it generally oversees media transactions, several lawyers said.

Separate from the negotiations with Murdoch and Dow Jones, Dow Jones and the Bancroft family that controls the company continue to explore whether anyone else would be interested in making an alternative bid. A Dow Jones board committee was expected to meet Tuesday afternoon with other potential investors, including Ron Burkle, a supermarket billionaire who has failed in previous attempts to buy newspaper companies.

Andrew Butcher, a spokesman for News Corp., declined comment.

Shares of News Corp. dropped 45 cents to $23.09 while shares of Dow Jones fell $1.04 to $57.85 in midday trading Tuesday.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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