The NFRN reacted quickly after hearing that the Telegraph was raising the cover price of its weekday, Saturday and Sunday editions but planned to maintain the current pence per copy margin it pays to retailers until August.
Following a series of heated meetings with senior executives – most recently chief operating officer Aki Mandhar and its managing director for subscriptions Peter Hickman – the NFRN delegation led by National President Mike Mitchelson secured an agreement from the Telegraph that it would make available “a sizeable” sum of money to invest in members’ businesses.
Mr Mitchelson said: “The Telegraph’s announcement was a real bolt from the blue and completely unacceptable. We knew that our members would be outraged, particularly as recent price rises on the Times and Guardian have been accompanied by pro rata terms and that the Telegraph’s proposal could not go unchallenged.”
From Saturday February 2, the price of the Saturday edition rises to £2.50 the Sunday Telegraph increases to £2.20 the following day and from Monday February 4 weekday editions will cost £2.
Attempting to justify its actions to retailers, the Telegraph said: “Our highly successful subscriptions programme now accounts for approximately 65% of all copies sold. Our subscribers – almost all of whom take the paper seven days a week – represent guaranteed, long term revenue for the retail trade: in 2019 the Telegraph’s titles will deliver a margin value of £50 million for retailers.
“The annual payment cycle of subscriptions means cover price rises do not immediately transfer to subscribers. As subscriptions are The Telegraph’s leading source of newspaper sales, it is important that retail margins are aligned with their renewal structure to enable us to remain competitive against factors like rising production costs, as well as allowing continued investment in gaining subscriptions and supporting retailers.”
Retail margins will not increase until Saturday August 3.
Representatives from the Telegraph are due to attend the NFRN’s February national council meeting to explain their actions.
More details about the NFRN’s negotiations can be found in the February edition of The Fed which will arrive in members’ shops next week.