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Murdoch Vows to Save Post, Considers Suit

From Times Wire Services

Rupert Murdoch pledged Wednesday to do everything possible to save his New York Post newspaper--even suing to overturn a new law requiring the media magnate to sell or shut the paper, his spokesman said.

However, when asked about the fate of the Post on Cable News Network’s “Crossfire” program, Murdoch said, “I think the odds are that I’ll have to sell the Post,” adding that “I’m not going to sell the Boston Herald.”

The Herald is making a profit, while the Post is losing money, Murdoch said. “I’m not optimistic it (the Post) will be sold, but I’m not going to say it’s going to close,” he said.

However, Murdoch said that if no buyer is found, he will have to close down the New York paper.

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The media magnate said an amendment sponsored by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., to force Murdoch to choose between the media properties in each city was aimed at the editorial policies of the newspapers.

“We’re keeping the Boston Herald in spite of Sen. Kennedy,” Murdoch said. If he must sell one of the properties, it will be the TV station, he said, adding that he hoped promised legislation to overturn the Kennedy amendment would succeed and allow him to keep all the Boston and New York properties.

The future of two newspapers and TV stations got caught in the cross fire between a few Democratic lawmakers and the Federal Communications Commission, a conservative-led federal regulatory agency Kennedy says is “running amok.”

Appeal to Congress

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The chief executive of News Corp Ltd. urged Congress to repeal the law, which was passed as an amendment in a 1,000-page omnibus financing bill just before Christmas without debate or even the knowledge of most representatives.

The provision forbids the FCC from granting waivers to its 13-year-old rule that prohibits publishers from owning TV stations and newspapers in the same market. The FCC had been empowered to grant waivers.

Murdoch had indicated that he might seek a waiver of the FCC rule if he could not find buyers for the papers.

The Boston Herald is profitable, and analysts said Murdoch could easily find a buyer for it. But the New York Post loses more than $10 million a year, and analysts contend that he will have a great deal of trouble selling it.

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In a statement issued by his spokesman, Murdoch urged Congress to repeal the law “in the interests of fairness.”

Lawrence Kessler, general counsel for Murdoch’s News America Corp., said the Australian-born publisher preferred to see the legislation changed, but if it is not he would consider suing to overturn the law.

Some industry analysts said a lawsuit could be doomed from the start because the law, which was slipped into the $606-billion spending bill and apparently went unnoticed when President Reagan signed it Dec. 22, simply reaffirms a longstanding FCC ruling.


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