U.S. News

Murdoch in Ad Price Attack on Rival NY Times

Kenneth Li, Financial Times

News Corp is offering steep discounts to advertise in its Wall Street Journal and New York Post newspapers as its chairman Rupert Murdoch prepares an aggressive attack on the New York Times, people familiar with the plan said.

Rupert Murdoch

The sharp discounts come ahead of the April 26 launch of the Journal’s New York edition, which is aimed directly at the Times’s home turf. (CNBC.com has a content sharing agreement with the NY Times.)

The fresh assault on the Times bears the hallmarks of the strategy that has helped the News Corp chairman expand his print empire from Sydney to London to New York. Mr Murdoch has already taken on the Times editorially by boosting general news coverage.

In presentations to potential advertisers seen by the FT, News Corp appears to have offered discounts of between 79 and 83 per cent for full-page ads in the Journal and the Post.

News Corp executives are also bundling ad sales across the Journal and the Post in a new package called Journal Post +, according to the presentation.

The strategy recalls the newspaper price wars Mr Murdoch launched in the mid-1990s in the UK. The aggressive discounting by Mr Murdoch underscores the severity of his attack on the Times, US publishing executives said. “That is the deepest [discount] I have heard of this year,” one media buyer said of News Corp’s strategy.

Mr Murdoch plans to spend $30m in this and the next fiscal year to fund the expansion of the New York edition of the Journal, according to people briefed on the plans.

News Corp denied the discounts were as high as 80 per cent, and also denied it was spending as much as $30m on the new edition.

One News Corp insider said sales executives had offered discounts, but that the promotional rates for the new bundle were offered only to a handful of New York businesses, which do not currently advertise in the Post or the Journal.

In one sales pitch seen by the FT, News Corp has offered to sell a full-page print advertisement in New York region editions of the Journal and the New York Post and a banner ad in the Post for an estimated $19,000. A full-page ad in both papers combined would normally cost between $91,500 and $95,263, according to publicised rates.

The open rate for a full-page, black-and-white ad in the Times’s weekday edition in the New York region is $174,636.

Discounting of up to 50 per cent off published rates is standard practice in the ad revenue-starved newspaper publishing industry, media buyers said.

The New York Times declined to comment.