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Leading Article : Independent response to bully tactics

Rupert Murdoch is a monopolist by instinct. His response to journalistic challenge is the bully's reaction; by price-cutting he hopes to drive smaller newspaper groups out of business. This morning, he is at it again. He has cut the price of the Times on Mondays to 10p. This may be a fair reflection of its value - perhaps just a touch on the high side - but it is much less than the loss-making Times costs him to produce each day.

Like other global media tycoons, Mr Murdoch is prepared to spend huge sums of money in order to pump his opinions into British households and choke off a diverse press. He is using money taken from subscribers to his satellite television interests in order to subsidise newspapers in order to buy influence in a country he doesn't much care for. Predatory pricing is one term for this, though we can think of others. Britain's Conservative and Labour politicians are, it seems, too frightened of Mr Murdoch to respond.

At the Independent, however, we are beginning to feel, despite ourselves, a little sorry for Rupert. For one thing, his opinions are so predictable; so humdrum; so lifeless. He is Rupert the Bore. And we fear that, underneath it all, Rupert is not happy. Does his bass laugh echo jollily through the corridors of News International? We think not.

Therefore, in a spirit of generosity,we are giving Independent readers the chance to pick up free copies of Murdoch's the Times this morning. But we must make one thing absolutely clear. There is absolutely no obligation to take up our offer; we understand that many readers strongly object to the idea of reading the Times and apologise to them for any offence that might be caused by the very thought.