The Australian is to put up its weekday price by 20 cents to $1.50 from Monday, a rise of more than 15%. The move comes as parent company News Corp this morning revealed a loss for the last quarter of US$6.4bn.

In the competitive Sydney market the pricing move will make the News Ltd title more expensive than its broadsheet rival, the Fairfax-owned Sydney Morning Herald, which currently sells for $1.30. News Ltd’s Daily Telegraph is $1 on weekdays, while Fairfax’s Australian Financial Review is premium priced at $3.

However, in Melbourne, the rise will bring the Oz in line with its Fairfax competitor The Age, which already costs $1.50.

The move comes as News Ltd’s parent company News Corp reported a dramatic decline in revenues.

The comapny said that the last quarter of 2008 saw revenues fall by more 40% to just over $800m compared to the same period of 2007. However, much of that was as a result of one-off writedowns. CEO Rupert Murdoch said:

Our results for the quarter are a direct reflection of the grim economic climate. Whilewe anticipated a weakening, the downturn is more severe and likely longer lasting than previously thought. As a result, we have been taking actions to preserve a solid level of operational profitability and a strong balance sheet without sacrificing future growth. We are implementing rigorous cost-cutting across all operations and reducing head countwhere appropriate. We believe our businesses are well positioned to withstand a lengthy downturn and to emerge stronger as the current economic situation improves.

Peter Fray

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