NEWS: Shock as Times price cut forces rivals’ hand

News International has surprised the newspaper market with its decision to re-ignite the price war by slashing the cost of the Times on Monday to 10p throughout summer, on the back of an enlarged sports section.

News International has surprised the newspaper market with its decision

to re-ignite the price war by slashing the cost of the Times on Monday

to 10p throughout summer, on the back of an enlarged sports section.



The move is linked to a levelling out of the Times’s circulation rise

and increased competition for readers with a strong interest in sport.



One immediate effect of the price cut was that the Daily Telegraph

delayed its new branding campaign by several days to 5 June.



The Independent responded boldly on Monday (3 June) by offering its

readers coupons to get the Times free ‘in the spirit of generosity’. The

paper also carried a leader article that accused Rupert Murdoch of

bullying tactics.



Toby Constantine, marketing director of Times Newspapers, commented:

‘This move backs a belief that our Monday sports section is better than

the Telegraph’s. The Times on Monday now has the biggest and most

comprehensive sports section. We wanted to give people the chance to

sample that.’



The Times abandoned its price-cutting strategy in September. The price

war helped it to increase its circulation from around 360,000 to

650,000, while also hitting profits at both the Telegraph and the

Independent.



Industry sources suggested the Telegraph was now likely to attack the

Sunday Times.



Matthew Howells, deputy promotions director at the Telegraph group,

would not be drawn on the issue, but said: ‘The circulation rise of the

Times has halted and if you take bulk sales out of its figures then its

year-on-year sales are down.’



Bill Kinlay, media director at the Network, said that the Times’s sports

initiative was likely to be the first of a number of similar moves in

preparation for the launch of the sports daily, Sport First, in August.



Amanda Platell, managing director of the Independent, said the paper had

no intention of competing head-to-head with the Times on sport. ‘People

are looking for quality, not volume of writing,’ she claimed.



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