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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

British Newspapers Declare Price War

LONDON -- A price war flared among Britain's quality newspapers when The Daily Telegraph and The Independent slashed their prices in quick succession. The Daily Telegraph, the nation's biggest-selling broadsheet daily, announced Wednesday that all but its weekend editions would cost 30 pence (45 cents), down from 48 pence, starting Thursday. The new price matches that adopted last September by The Times, owned by Rupert Murdoch, which went to 30 pence from 45 pence for its weekday papers in defiance of traditional newspaper-industry wisdom. "As a result of the new cover price, we believe we will be able to build circulation by appealing to readers of mid-market titles and to a greater number of new and non-regular readers," the Telegraph's editor Max Hastings said. Hours after the Telegraph, owned by Canadian Conrad Black, made its surprise move, The Independent retaliated by cutting its price from 50 pence to 20 pence -- for just one day. "Given the condition of the market, if the pair, Murdoch and Black, go down to 30 pence, the most likely target is likely to be The Independent," said The Independent's assistant editor, Colin Hughes. "It'd clearly be in their interest to force The Independent out," he said. "We are cutting to 20 pence to say to our readers and our potential readers that this is not going to happen, we will fight this." He said the one-day cut would be followed by a review of the paper's price structure. The decision by the Telegraph, widely read by rural Britain's conservative middle classes, followed a burst of aggressive pricing by newspapers trying to boost circulation in a dwindling market. In April the Telegraph's weekday circulation per day fell below the million mark for the first time in 40 years. The Independent, economically the weakest of Britain's five broadsheets, had to accept a recent takeover bid by a consortium including the tabloid newspaper company Mirror Group Newspapers. Industry analysts said they doubted its ability to survive a pricing war, but Hughes was confident of success. "Our consortium has no intention of allowing these two operations to drive us out of business," he said.