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News Corp. Holders Back Poison Pill

The shareholder vote is a victory for Chairman Rupert Murdoch in his struggle with rival John Malone.
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News Corp.

(NWS) - Get News Corporation Class B Report

Chairman Rupert Murdoch received a crucial vote of support from shareholders Friday in his long-running battle with investor John Malone over the fate of the company.

At the News Corp.'s annual meeting, shareholders approved a poison pill takeover defense designed to prevent Malone from seizing control of News Corp. Malone's

Liberty Media

(LCAPA)

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holds a 19% stake in News Corp., while Murdoch's family has 31% voting control.

News Corp. instituted the poison pill almost two years ago, and Friday¿s approval will keep it in place for another three years. The takeover defense has not been without controversy. News Corp. originally promised it would last only one year and would need shareholder approval for renewal. But News Corp. extended it late last year without a vote, triggering lawsuits from some investors.

In recent weeks, Malone and Murdoch reportedly have been discussing swapping News Corp. assets -- notably the company's

DirecTV

(DTV)

DTV stake -- for Malone's shares of News Corp.

Shares of News Corp. ended Friday down 16 cents at $21.76. Liberty Media also lost 16 cents, to close at $87.72.