regulation, press for reform, nfrn, management today, baroness denise kingsmillThe Newsagents Federation is calling for the newspaper and magazine industry to be referred to the Competition Commission and will be heartened by the views expressed by Baroness Kingsmill, a former deputy chair of the Commission, in the latest issue of Management Today.

“All markets require regulation,” she writes. “Market forces are red in tooth and claw and, unregulated, will lead to the survival of the fittest monopolist.”

Regulators usually restrict their findings to considerations of pure consumer benefits, which are “thought to be synonymous with the public interest”. However, Lady Kingsmill argues that there are clear distinctions to the interests of consumers and of citizens.

How might the issue be judged? Take the media, she says. Consumers might want the latest products and the lowest prices. Citizens might want free speech and privacy. Business interests would be profit and access to the market. Social interests might be around public taste and methods used in news gathering.

The public interest needs to be moved up the regulatory agenda, she argues.

Press for reform

“Is it appropriate to destroy a local economy, losing jobs and specialist skills?” she asks in relation to the Thameslink train contract going to Germany rather than Derby.

At a smaller level, the local independent shopkeeper is asking the same question as the supply chain appears to favour the big supermarket operators. “Is it appropriate that a supply chain can destroy my business?” he or she may ask.

News wholesalers are just one part of the wider issue, and retailers should be thinking about pressuring the regulators on all manner of things. NFRN’s Press for Reform is a start.