Rupert Murdoch urged Congress yesterday to repeal "cynical and mean-spirited legislation passed in the middle of the night" that forces him to sell media properties in New York and Boston.

Owner of a media empire stretching from Australia to Great Britain, Murdoch said in a statement that a measure pushed primarily by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) "was clearly crafted to stifle all public knowledge and scrutiny."

Kennedy said Tuesday during a town meeting in Lexington, Mass., that he believed that Murdoch "had it wired" with the FCC to obtain extensions on temporary waivers from the media cross-ownership rule for his properties in Boston and New York. Murdoch said yesterday that Kennedy's statement was "not only libelous and malicious" but "totally incorrect."

Kennedy and other Democrats had added a last-minute amendment to the omnibus federal spending bill last month. It forbids the FCC from changing its prohibition against one company owning a newspaper and a television station in the same market.

They said that, because the FCC suddenly revoked last August the Fairness Doctrine requiring television stations to provide programming on community issues and air differing views about them, the cross-ownership rule easily could be scrapped.

FCC Chairman Dennis R. Patrick said yesterday that Kennedy has "an inaccurate view of the commission in general and in particular with respect to the matter of newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership." He said "the commission has reached no judgments whatsoever on that issue."

Murdoch must sell by March 6 the New York Post, which has been losing money and has been on the market, in order to retain WNYW-TV, Channel 5, there. Financial analysts have said Murdoch's Boston media properties -- the Boston Herald and WFXT-TV, Channel 25 -- are profitable.

"I think . . . the odds at the moment are that I'll have to sell" the Post, or "close it . . . . ," Murdoch said last night on CNN's "Crossfire." "I'm not going to sell the Boston Herald . . . . we're keeping {it} in spite of Sen. Kennedy." The Herald has severely criticized Kennedy.

Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.), a leader of efforts to overturn the legislation, has scheduled a hearing today in New York City that his spokesman said is designed to look at the future of newspapers there.