The NFRN has condemned News International’s threat to stop supplies to an independent newsagent who had added a surcharge to the price of the weekend Sun.
Posted on: 09 July 2012 07:05
According to the NFRN: Since February this year when News International cut the price of its Saturday paper to 50p to fund its new Sunday edition, also priced at just 50p, newsagent and NFRN member Walter Bush of Baginton Village Stores, Baginton near Coventry has added a 10p surcharge to both newspapers to ensure that his margin is maintained.
But when News International got wind of his action and despite a Trading Standards official giving it a clean bill of health, the newspaper publisher told the retailer that if he continued to persist, his supplies of the Sun would be stopped.
National President Alan Smith (pictured) said: “By bullying one individual newsagent by threatening to stop his supplies when the action he is taking is both fair and legal shows that NI, and by association Rupert Murdoch, have finally lost their marbles.
“When publishers attack our margins there are two obvious ways that members can fight back – they can disregard the cover price or give preference to those titles that provide a more viable margin.
“The printed cover price is only a recommended retail price so Mr Bush, and any retailer who wants to, can surcharge the title to make sure the profit they want to make from the newspaper is maintained.”
News of the publisher’s action came as NFRN phone lines were jammed with angry members protesting at this weekend’s 30p price increase on the Sunday Times, accompanied by a cut in terms from 23.5 per cent to 21 per cent. This means retailers will now receive less than a penny extra from the substantial increase.
As well as writing to NI demanding an urgent meeting with senior executives, the NFRN is also considering what other steps it could take.
“If NI wants retailers to actively promote the Sunday Times they have to reward them appropriately for these efforts,” said Mr Smith. “Before this weekend, we will be reminding members of the relevant profit margin they make on each Sunday publication.
“We also understand that individual members up and down the country will be venting their rage against the Sunday Times by applying a margin that makes this title more viable to sell, or giving preference to those titles that better reward retailers.”
Besides this latest penny pinching exercise, the NFRN can reveal that NI’s distribution arm, NIDL, refuses to return deposits paid by new entrants.
While most wholesalers return the deposit with interest after 48 weeks of satisfactory trading, NIDL keeps hold of the money until the shop is sold or closed.
“This means that newsagents are subsidising NI to the tune of many millions of pounds. This, together with the cut in newsagent’s profits on the Sunday Times and the bullying of individual members, gives us yet more evidence of the unacceptable practices that NFRN members are expected to live with and we will be presenting this at our Competition Appeals Tribunal hearing on September 28. It further shows why a further review of newspaper distribution has to be undertaken.”