Retailers and industry bodies have warned an upcoming government investigation into the health of the newspaper industry will be worthless unless it tackles core problems faced by news sellers.
Prime minister Theresa May announced the review into the financial viability, business models and overall quality of the British local and national press, in print and online, last week.
Retailers told RN any review will fail to have an impact unless it examines the issues facing independent news sellers – who are responsible for 60% of UK newspaper sales.
Kate Clark, owner of Sean’s News in Upton upon Severn, said: “I’d like the review to look at the monopoly of Smiths and Menzies. We need to get deliveries to people quicker – late deliveries cost us so much. Delivery charges are going up, too, and the multiples have taken away a lot of our business.”
She added that dwindling profits for retailers should also be included in any discussion about the financial health of the industry.
“The Malvern Gazette, for instance, has jumped from 60p a copy to 95p and our margin has shrunk. To justify that price increase to my customers when my margin is going down is difficult,” she said.
Carl Pickering, of Top Shop News, said: “We used to sell a few hundred local weeklies a decade ago, and now we’re down to 20 or 30 each week. The shrinking margins haven’t helped.”
NFRN head of news Brian Murphy said the federation “would be more than happy to take one of the seats on the review panel, so all our members’ concerns can be raised and addressed.”
He added: “This investigation should be widened to include cover pricing, declining retailer margins and the increasing costs associated with receiving supplies, as well as the physical distribution of newspapers.”