News UK blasted by NFRN on newspaper margin cut

The NFRN has said “enough is enough” on newspaper margin cuts after News UK increased the price of The Times, but introduced a 0.5% drop in percentage terms for retailers.

From today (6 July), the cover price of Monday-to-Friday editions of The Times have risen by 20p to £2, while the margin for retailers has dropped from 21.5% to 21%, bringing the margin in line with the title’s weekend editions.

Its weekend titles will also increase in price, with the Saturday edition rising 20p to £2.20 and The Sunday Times moving up to £3. However, margins will be maintained at 21%.

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In a letter to the retail trade, News UK wrote: “We understand that any margin cuts are unwelcome, however, this price change will increase both revenue and profit for retailers.

“As a business, we have faced considerable financial pressures during this time. Our titles have continued to focus on keeping our readers informed with the latest news and advice, and this small change in margin is required to ensure we can continue to fund the agenda-setting journalism that ultimately drives the customer to purchase our titles.”

NFRN national president Stuart Reddish slammed the newspaper margin decision and said: “News UK is right that these are very tough economic times, but news retailers are facing considerable financial pressures, too.

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“This move comes at a time when we have done everything possible – and when we have risked both our health and safety – to get newspapers into readers’ hands.

“To give on the one hand, by maintaining terms on weekend editions of The Times, but to take with the other, with another cut to our margin, is a real blow.

He said that retailers need pro-rata terms just to be able to stand still. “Enough is enough. All newspaper publishers claim they want to work with retailers, but if they were really interested in saving the printed copy they would not continue to erode our terms,” he said, adding that the unfair treatment news stockists receive would be discussed at the federation’s next national council meeting, and a “full and frank discussion with senior newspaper chiefs” was needed.

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