WILL MURDOCH BE OUTFOXED?

A LITTLE-NOTICED FEDERAL PROBE HAS STALLED THE MOGUL'S U.S. EMPIRE-AND PERHAPS IMPERILED IT

It takes a lot to rattle Rupert Murdoch, but in January, as he faced Federal Communications Commission lawyers probing his 10-year-old purchase of TV stations now at the core of his Fox Broadcasting network, he grew clearly angry. "Either your people can't read, don't understand English or understand instruction," he said, his voice stone-hard, "or you have a witch-hunt in this."

It was a telling moment in an investigation that has largely escaped public notice, unfolding in a bureaucratic arena more typically characterized by paper than passion. But nothing about this investigation is ordinary-not the players, not the stakes, not even...

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