TWO major political parties yesterday backed setting up a committee to ensure fair competition in the newspaper industry. Democratic Party spokesman on consumers' rights Fred Li Wah-ming said the committee could help prevent the emergence of an oligopoly as a result of the price war, which has already forced the closure of three newspapers. The committee should be made up of academics, legal experts, economists and the public. The Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood is drafting a bill on fair competition. Vice-president Bruce Liu Sing-lee said the bill would help ensure fair trade and balance society's opposing interests. But veteran media operators opposed the move, saying it would affect free market operations. Timothy Jim Sui-hing, formerly of the Oriental Press Group, said newspapers were different from other consumer products and should not be subject to intervention. 'The administration should control the obscene content of newspapers but not their business operations,' he said. The closure of the newspapers had nothing to do with the price war, he said; it was the result of them losing money. The Consumer Council has warned the price cuts by five newspapers could lead to the reformation of a price-fixing cartel with fewer members.