Pressure for inquiry on newspaper prices

ALL-PARTY pressure for an Office of Fair Trading investigation into 'predatory pricing' by Rupert Murdoch's News International group intensified yesterday.

Peter Bottomley MP, vice- chairman of the Conservative back-bench Media Committee, joined Shadow Industry Secretary Robin Cook and Matthew Taylor, Liberal Democrats' chairman of campaigns, in the call to OFT Director-General Sir Bryan Carsberg to rule on the broadsheet price-cutting that has prompted fears of newspaper closures.

Labour is also proposing an inquiry by the Commons Select Committee on Trade and Industry into newspaper pricing, competition and subsidy, with a 'quickie' report before parliament goes into recess next month.

Mr Cook said the News International price war was clearly aimed at driving competitors out of business, and he urged Sir Bryan to investigate. 'He (Murdoch) is able to cut prices only because of his profits from other interests. We are now faced with blatant predatory pricing.'

Mr Taylor, MP for Truro, added: 'There is an urgent need for the OFT to step in before the choice of quality newspapers in this country is cut to those in the hands of media magnates.'

Mr Bottomley, MP for Eltham, said:'Sir Brian said previously that there was a fine line which he did not then think had been crossed. If he looks again, I think he will notice that it has been.

'It is not for me to say which newspapers should live or die, but I do believe that people in parliament shoud try to make sure that the usual rules apply. Some would say that for too long some individuals have had their own way, breaking every rule under the sun.'

Subsidies on the scale required to sell the Times for 20p per copy threatened 'the destruction of the British newspaper industry as we know it'. A three-week inquiry by the OFT would establish whether there was any commercial logic in the price-cutting 'other than driving the competition from the market place'.

Mr Taylor said: 'It looks like a deliberate policy to force competitors out of the market - which cannot be good for democracy.

'If nobody else will act, the Government must. Having allowed Murdoch to take over the greater part of the British print media, they cannot allow him to close down the rest.'

News International cut the price of the Times from 50p to 30p last September, increasing sales by 28 per cent. Last

Thursday, the price was cut again to 20p after the Daily Telegraph slashed its price to 30p. Both groups are also operating cut-price offers on weekend titles.

When the price wars began last autumn, Mr Cook raised the issue with the OFT, and Sir Bryan said that a line could be drawn between vigorous competition and predatory price competition. He ruled that the competition was fair.

Labour also intends to pursue the controversy through the Commons Trade and Industry Select Committee. Derek Fatchett MP, Opposition spokesman on industry, said: 'This is a matter of profound importance to our democracy.

'It will be extremely useful if the DTI Select Committee could undertake a quick report on newspaper pricing, competition and subsidy. We should look at the issue of cross-

subsidy from one part of an organisation to another, especially when one part is clearly not a newspaper activity. Profits have been used to subsidise a no- profit making newspaper.'

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
football
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him
musicIndie music promoter was was a feature at Carter gigs
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
News
Performers dressed as Tunnocks chocolate teacakes, a renowned Scottish confectionary, perform during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
news
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Sport
Arsenal signing Calum Chambers
sportGunners complete £16m transfer of Southampton youngster
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Salesforce Developer

£500 - £700 per day: Harrington Starr: Salesforce APEX Developer APEX, Classe...

Market Access Analyst (FIX 5.0, Equities, Derivatives)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Market Access Analyst (FIX On-boarding, FIX 5.0,...

Nursery Nurse

£7 - £8 per hour: Randstad Education Leeds: Nursery Nurse Level 3 or above Ear...

Special Needs teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Special Need teachers required t...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on