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Murdoch's Wall Street Journal to be Printed in London

Rupert Murdoch's recently acquired Dow Jones publishing business will start printing the Wall Street Journal in London this month, raising the competitive threat to rivals like Pearson's Financial Times.

The U.S. edition of the highly regarded business paper will be sold from April 16 by 250 newsagents in the financial heart of the capital, namely the City, West End and Canary Wharf where many leading global investment banks have European headquarters.

It will also be sold at Heathrow and London City airports.

The Journal, with an initial print run of around 3,500 copies, will cost 250 pence, well above the 150 pence Financial Times cover price, but not out of line with the price of other non-UK papers sold in Britain.

Given many bankers and high-flying financiers subscribe to the online version of the Wall Street Journal it remains to be seen how many will stop to pick up a printed copy, particularly as the Wall Street Journal Europe is also on London newstands.

"We believe a large number of internationally-minded people living and working in London will value the U.S. edition, and we'll now be able to give them the competitive advantage of having the world's best business paper five hours ahead of U.S. readers," said Michael Bergmeijer, managing director of Dow Jones's consumer media group in Europe.

The U.S. and European editions of the Journal will be printed at Newsfax International Ltd in east London.

Last month, Murdoch's News Corp unveiled the new 650 million pound ($1.3 billion) printing presses it has built in the UK, including a facility in Broxbourne, north of London, which it bills as the world's largest. News International, the UK unit of News Corp, has been in talks about printing the Wall Street Journal Europe at this new site.

Print Pressure

The Wall Street Journal has a print and online circulation of nearly 2.1 million, with www.wsj.com ranked as the largest paid subscriptions news service on the Web.

ABN Amro analyst Paul Gooden said the Journal's arrival in London was "clearly not helpful" for the FT although offsetting this was its high price and U.S.-centric editorial focus.

The push by the Journal, one of the world's most influential newspapers, into the London market marks the latest competitive move between Dow Jones under Murdoch and Pearson as both work to build their readership in domestic and international markets.

Roy Greenslade, a journalism professor at City University in London who has held senior posts at Murdoch newspapers during his career, questioned whether the two Journal publications would be able to survive in the crowded London newspaper market.

Greenslade said Murdoch could opt to throw marketing muscle behind the U.S. Journal's presence in London, but added that it was a relatively "tiny elite" in the capital who would have an appetite for such financially-focused publications.

Still, the roiling of equity markets globally by the credit crunch and the knock-on effects for consumers as banks cut back their mortgage offers or ramp up borrowing costs for homeowners is making front-page news on broadsheet and tabloids.

The pink-sheeted FT sells more papers in the United States than it does in the UK.

Although circulation figures for many British newspapers are falling as to free papers or Web-based information services make gains the FT has managed to buck the UK trend.

Pearson's annual results in March showed circulation at the FT was up 2 percent at nearly 440,000 in the July-December period with subscriptions up 19 percent and online subscribers to the FT up 13 percent to 101,000.

Pearson executives such as Chief Executive Marjorie Scardino and Finance Director Robin Freestone have often said in they are watching Murdoch closely to see what strategies he pursues.

In September, News Corp President Peter Chernin was quoted in a Scottish newspaper as saying the company would "crush" the Financial Times after the Dow deal.

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