Hearing that the Telegraph was increasing the cover prices on its weekday, Saturday and Sunday editions but was keeping back the improved retail margin for six months to subsidise its subscription copies was a huge blow.
The broadsheet publisher’s announcement coincided with price rises for the Guardian, Observer and Times – all of which were accompanied by pro-rata retail terms.
So the NFRN had no option but to challenge the Telegraph. After some intense negotiations and some heated debate a compromise has been reached. While the improved terms will still be deferred, the Telegraph will be making a sizeable investment in NFRN members’ businesses. The newspaper publisher’s chief operating officer Aki Mandhar has agreed to attend this month’s national council meeting when she will explain more.
It was somewhat ironic that news of the Telegraph’s move broke almost immediately after the CMA advised that on prioritisation grounds – and together with its heavy workload and limited resources – it would not be in a position to pursue a market referral for an investigation into newspaper and magazine distribution in the UK for now.
While, admittedly this was a little disappointing, what was clear from the CMA’s response was that it has studied the grievances that were raised in our submission surrounding the many inequalities in the newstrade, and it obviously shares our concerns around the continued use of absolute territorial protection (ATP) contracts and the detrimental effect that this is having on retailers. So much so, that the CMA has promised to take publishers to task over their failure to self govern correctly and they will be warned that unless they mend their ways, they run the risk of a market investigation referral and the removal of ATP in future.
This warning shot does mark a win for the NFRN. We will, however, continue to challenge both publishers and wholesalers until we see an end to the inequalities in the news trade.
That’s why in this edition of The Fed we are reviving our Enough’s Enough campaign and we want you to join in, by returning the enclosed postcard which deplores annual increases in carriage charges and call for an independent review of the outdated and unfair carriage charge model. I know of no other industry where a retailer is expected to pay a delivery charge while being trapped by a fixed price of the product. This means that we cannot pass on any carriage charge increases to our customers, while ATP prevents us from changing to another supplier.
So please make sure you fill in the postcard and send it back to us so we can continue to share your anger with both news wholesalers and with publishers too.
NFRN National President