Daily papers costing too much, says Murdoch

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The Independent Online

Rupert Murdoch has hit out at the "craze" for using DVDs to sell newspapers, accused daily papers of costing too much and forecast the end of traditional classified advertising.

In a rare interview Mr Murdoch described himself as "an agent of change", who introduced competition to the popular press and changed the whole of British industry when he faced down the unions at Wapping. The News Corporation chairman also admitted he was unpopular with his rivals in broadcasting, claiming: "They all hate me because of Sky."

Although his newspapers including The Sun, News of the World, The Times and Sunday Times have all run DVD giveaways, Mr Murdoch told Press Gazette - which son-in-law Matthew Freud is the major shareholder in - that he despised the practice. "I personally hate this DVD craze," he said. "The fact is, the sales go up for a day and are right back to where they were the following day.... People grab the paper, tear the DVD off, and throw away the paper. They've got to learn. That's got to stop."

In September, the price of The Times rose to 60p, in effect marking the end of the newspaper price war sparked by Mr Murdoch in 1993. But the News Corp chief insisted daily newspapers were still "all overpriced". However, Mr Murdoch ruled out any further price slashing, saying: "The reality is that we've seen the last of any serious price wars for a long time."

The mogul denied his recent internet ventures were "panic buying", as WPP's chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell has claimed. News Corp recently acquired the community website myspace.com and BSkyB, his British TV company, bought broadband provider Easynet. "There's no panic, and there was certainly no overpayment. It was a very careful strategy to go for the two biggest community sites for people under 30," he said.

While Mr Murdoch is confident that newspapers will continue to exist alongside electronic media for "many, many years to come" and that there will always be a need for "great journalism", he is more pessimistic about classified advertising: "This is a generational thing. We've been talking a 15 or 20-year slide on this. Certainly I don't know anybody under 30 who has ever looked at a classified advertisement in a newspaper. With broadband they do more and more transactions and job-seeking online," he said.

The 74-year-old, whose son Lachlan quit News Corp in August leaving only one of his four grown-up children, the Sky chief executive James Murdoch, working for the family empire, also gave a veiled hint about who will succeed him.

He said: "I don't think I've ever heard of any heir to a newspaper company who ever wanted to walk away from it. Children of major media people - generally, I wouldn't say universally - want to be part of it."