In a move merchandisers praised, the new ownership of Warner Music Group is lowering the cost on 1,776 titles, the largest devaluation in WEA's 33-year history.

In a move merchandisers praised, the new ownership of Warner Music Group is lowering the cost on 1,776 titles, the largest devaluation in WEA's 33-year history.

About 1,200 of the devalued titles were repriced to the company's Super Value budget line, which carries a $6.71 wholesale cost. Most of these were from WEA's $11.98 midline, but a few came from the company's front line and super midline.

Among the acts with titles being repriced from the Super Saver midline to budget are 10,000 Maniacs, the B-52's, Bad Company, Jackson Browne, Judy Collins, Doobie Brothers, Foghat, Aretha Franklin, J. Geils Band, Manhattan Transfer, Bette Midler, Teddy Pendergrass, Bonnie Raitt, Otis Redding and Rod Stewart.

Another 300 titles will be repriced from the front-line prices of $17.98 and $18.98 and the Super Sonic super midline price of $13.98 to the Super Saver midline, which carries a $7.85 cost.

That repricing will affect albums by acts including Tori Amos, Built to Spill, Tracy Chapman, Phil Collins, Hootie & the Blowfish, Madonna, Lil' Kim, Natalie Merchant, Morrissey, the Ramones, Stone Temple Pilots, Neil Young and Emerson, Lake & Palmer, as well as the Jimmy Page/Robert Plant album "Walking Into Clarksdale."

"Anything that the industry does to lower [retail prices] is extremely positive," Trans World Entertainment music divisional merchandise manager Jerry Kamiler says. The WEA price cut "reinforces what the [Universal Music Group] started in the fall with JumpStart."

George Balicky, VP at Galaxy Music Distributors in Pittsburgh, says, "If there is price protection, we always praise price changes when they are going down."

Price protection occurs when suppliers agree to cover the devaluation so that accounts do not have to take a hit on inventory. In this case, WEA will issue a credit by rebilling affected titles at the new lower price for purchases made of those albums within the past 90 days.

WMG executives were unavailable to comment.