Dow Jones (DJ) and News Corp. (NWS) - Get Report are reportedly close to an editorial-protections agreement that would clear the main hurdle to a $5 billion merger.

The online version of

The Wall Street Journal

reported late Monday that a deal in principle ending the centurylong Bancroft family ownership of Dow Jones could be reached as early as Tuesday.

The two sides held

"intense" talks this past weekend over News Corp.'s $60-a-share offer, but a main sticking point has been the Bancrofts' pledge to protect Dow Jones -- and its flagship

Journal

-- from editorial meddling by News Corp. and its owner, Rupert Murdoch.

The

Journal

said the biggest unknown remains whether the Bancrofts would support any compromise in such a protections agreement. Proposals on how to handle editorial protections have changed "significantly" since the Bancroft family handed over merger negotiations to Dow Jones' board last week, the newspaper said.

Dow Jones also may look to squeeze out a final agreement at an even richer price, the

Journal

said.

Shares of Dow Jones closed Monday at $57.50. The stock closed at $36.33 the day before News Corp.'s May 1 offer.

News Corp shares lost a penny after hours to $23.49.