Who’ll Own Dow Jones?

Talk about the rapidly-shifting media landscape! For the last several days, the press has been abuzz with conflicting reports about the fate of Dow Jones and its true content-producing prize, the Wall Street Journal.

Interestingly, a major satcom player has stepped into the scene of this high-stakes business drama.

A few days ago London’s Business Online claimed an exclusive scoop, handing the prize to Rupert Murdoch:

 Rupert Murdoch has succeeded with his $5 billion bid for Dow Jones, owners of the Wall Street Journal, according to sources acting for the Dow Jones board. Negotiations on price and matters of principle have been completed, though some details remain to be resolved. None is regarded by either side as a deal-breaker.

The Dow board is confident that the terms of the deal will be accepted  by the Bancroft family, which controls a majority of voting shares in Dow Jones, over the next few working days. A formal announcement is expected next week.

On Friday afternoon London time, Dow Jones, reacting to the first posting of this story, issued a statement saying that it was "incorrect". When The Business contacted Dow’s corporate affairs, however, it refused to elaborate on the record.

While it’s only Tuesday, and news confirming the scoop could come at any moment, Forbes reported yesterday that Dow Jones may be holding out for a White Knight

Dow Jones, in talks to be acquired by News Corp., is holding onto hopes that it can avoid Rupert Murdoch’s grasp. The Wall Street Journal publisher was to meet Monday with a supermarket baron who has been looking to buy a major newspaper.

Dow Jones (nyse: DJ news people ) board members were scheduled to sit down with billionaire Ron Burkle. Last month, the Dow Jones union approached Burkle about a possible bid. The union, which represents over 2,000 employees, has opposed a $5 billion, $60-per-share offer from News Corp. (nyse: NWS news people ) saying that Murdoch could meddle with the media company’s editorial products and hurt its journalistic integrity.

But perhaps the White Knight will come from the stars or — in an ironic twist — from a consortium that includes a Web 2.0 guru who got famously rich from (you guessed it) Rubert Murdoch himself:

EchoStar Communications is part of an investor group, led by MySpace cofounder Brad Greenspan, which is looking to buy part of Dow Jones, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.

Greenspan brought together of group of investors that are looking to purchase part of Dow Jones at $60 per share and to invest another $250 million, offering an alternative to Rupert Murdoch’s $5 billion offer for the financial-news company.

Greenspan’s group “would include the participation” of EchoStar, according to The Journal. EchoStar declined to comment to the paper.

Looking to invest in Dow Jones would be the latest in a series of unusual investment moves on the part of EchoStar, the nation’s second-largest direct-broadcast satellite provider. Earlier this year, Charlie Ergen’s company reportedly made a failed $2.13 billion bid for ION Media Networks, which owns 60 TV stations and runs a broadcast network. ION ultimately accepted a tender offer from NBC Universal and Citadel Investment Group.

And just last month, EchoStar teamed up with its satellite rival, DirecTV, to make a bid for Intelsat, the world’s biggest provider of fixed-satellite services. But BC Partners won in that auction, acquiring a majority stake in Intelsat for $5 billion.

Now, for those who haven’t been closely following the plot: NewsCorp bought MySpace, making Brad Greenspan a rich man. EchoStar chief  executive Charlie Ergen and Murdoch were previously locked in a years-long battle for No. 1 satellite-TV operator DirecTV, which Murdoch’s  News Corp. eventually acquired. Now EchoStar and Greenspan appear to be going head to head with Murdoch in a bid to grab one of global media’s premier content properties.

What’s at stake in this ongoing competition between Ergen and Murdoch to build their respective satellite and content empires? News Corp. wants to launch Fox Business Channel, so having Dow Jones would give them a competitive advantage over CNBC. Considering how quickly Fox News became competitive with CNN, or how quickly MySpace added value to NewsCorp’s media portfolio, it’s not an overstatement to say that the final results of this bidding war will reverbate for years to come.

And so the convergence continues….