There was a brief flare-up of hostilities in the tabloid price war as both The Sun and the Daily Mirror again dropped their cover prices.
On Friday the Mirror was on sale 12p below its normal price at 20p and The Sun at 6p below on 24p.
The discount wasn’t a return to last year’s stand-off in which both tabloids reduced their prices to 20p. Instead it was a one-off reduction paid for by a marketing tie-in with rival telecoms companies.
The Sun struck a deal with BT to mark the phone company launching a new pricing scheme and after the Mirror got wind of it the paper landed a rival promotion at the 11th hour.
The Sun devoted page 10 to an advertising feature with a plug on the front page touting BT’s promise of national phone calls charged at 6p an hour.
Not to be outdone, the Mirror responded by a striking a deal with Carphone Warehouse along similar lines devoting half of page one and all of page three to it.
Under Carphone Warehouse’s talktalk scheme the company claims it can cut £60 a year from the price of the average BT phone bill.
A Daily Mirror spokeswoman said: “We knew about the BT deal and also wanted our readers to take advantage of lower phone charges.
“We chose the company which kicked off lower phone tariffs -Carphone Warehouse.
“The deal was struck by editor Piers Morgan and is fully funded. The reason for the move was to ensure our readers got the very best deal.
“It’s a one-off promotion that was no cost to the company whatsoever. The package also includes a further advertising deal with Carphone Warehouse.”
Sun advertising director Ian Clark said: “From our side it wasn’t a flare-up of the price war; it was a commercial partner coming to us that was particularly keen to find a way of communicating with our readers and doing that in a slightly different way.
“They were particularly keen on playing on the 6p for all national calls.
“We settled on the sixth of the month with 6p off the cover price together with a significant advertising spend.
“The Mirror were aware of it because BT also spoke to them – at the last minute Piers and his chums decided to do a bit of a spoiler from their side and good luck to them.”
By Dominic Ponsford