The decision by Oriental Daily News (ODN), and Eastweek and Next magazines to lift their cover prices after a bitter price war is not expected to cause a rebound in the media sector in the short term, analysts say. 'Media stocks are still suffering from the price-cutting war because the price rise will only enable the publishers to lose less,' one analyst said. Among the media stocks, Oriental Press Group (OPG), which owns ODN and Eastweek, had better prospects than Hong Kong Daily News or Sing Tao, the analyst said. He said OPG, a member of the Hang Seng Index, had cemented the position of ODN as the territory's number one newspaper, even though circulation had declined. It still took up 26 per cent of the Chinese-language newspaper market and boasted 1.41 million readers. OPG shares closed slightly higher yesterday at $3.15, up from $3.125. The price war appeared to come to an end two days ago when ODN lifted its price to $3 from $2 and Eastweek increased to $10 from $8. The rival Next magazine echoed the move yesterday, rising $3 to $15. 'Tin Tin Daily and Sing Pao would soon follow suit and regulate their prices to the same level as Oriental Daily,' the analyst said. Analysts said the price rises were an effort by the rivals to polish their year-end results. An analyst at Lippo Securities forecast ODN's net profit would fall 50 per cent for the year to March this year to $193 million. He said next year's profit was expected to recover by 21 per cent to $234 million, boosted by more stable paper prices and a 25 per cent rise in advertising income. Next Media Group managing director Morris Ho Kwok-fai said Next magazine, which recorded a loss of $4 million in January for the first time, would see an increase of $35 million in income after the price rise. 'Despite a recovery in income, we don't think we will consider any flotation plan this year,' Mr Ho said. He said the Next Media Group would kick off its $1 billion development project today, including a new office and a printing plant housing $600 million worth of machinery.