The independence of the cross-industry Press Distribution Forum (PDF) has been called into question after emails seen by RN revealed that it acted as a mouthpiece for news publishers.

The News Magazine Association (NMA) was legally forced by RN to release internal communications showing that it helped write a defence of publisher late deliveries that the PDF then released as its own statement.

The NMA is a trade body that represents just newspapers, whereas the PDF claims to represent the entire supply chain including retailers, wholesalers, distributors and publishers.

An unknown NMA employee wrote: “If [redacted] could then release it […] from the PDF, that would be great.”

NFRN head of news Brian Murphy said: “If the PDF is simply reissuing a statement created by another party, then this is a concern. 

“The PDF must act independently and its component parts must have a say in addressing concerns raised in whatever aspect of the news category is failing,  otherwise its existence, validity and respect will only be questioned.”

The PDF refused to comment, instead sharing excerpts of its constitution stating that it operates to standards that are “agreed and supported by the associations and companies within the news industry supply chain”.

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