Hopes of end to news price war

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A GLIMMER of hope that the Government may take action to end the newspaper price war emerged yesterday when the Office of Fair Trading indicated that it is taking seriously the fresh complaint levelled against Rupert Murdoch's News International by rival publishers.

The director general of fair trading, John Bridgeman, has written to The Independent, the Daily Telegraph, and the Guardian to request further information in support of their claim that the pricing policy of the Times is predatory. On the basis of such information he will decide whether a new OFT inquiry should be opened.

Mr Bridgeman said: "In the past we have dismissed other claims of predatory pricing but the issue continues to cause concern."

This is the second promising sign for publishers who claim that Mr Murdoch is bent on dominating the British broadsheet market through relentless price-cutting. Last month Labour peers defied the Government by joining a cross-party alliance in the Lords calling for an amendment in the new Competition Bill to deal specifically with newspapers.