The ACCC conference to consider a trial of new magazine supply rules held Thursday last week in response to a request from newsXpress was well attended. Major magazine publishers attended along with the MPA, lawyers, the ANF, VANA and NANA, newsXpress members and several independent newsagents.
No other newsagency marketing or franchise group participated in or supported this ACCC conference from what we understand.
This conference was a first for the newsagency channel. Newsagents have never had such an opportunity to speak directly to the ACCC on the issue of the magazine supply model or to confront magazine publishers and distributors directly on the damage to newsagency businesses of the magazine supply model.
It is disappointing that associations presenting newsagents have failed to achieve this previously. Newsagents participating demonstrated that they can speak confidently and personally about the matter without getting too bogged down in minutia.
The conference went for two hours with around half in attendance speaking on the proposed magazine supply rule changes.
As newsXpress had requested the conference it was invited to make an opening statement. Click here to see the submission made on behalf of newsXpress. Also read the MPA submission to which newsXpress was responding.
At the conference it became obvious there was a disconnect between what the MPA (publishers) stated at the conference and what is in its submission to the ACCC for the magazine supply trial. I hope the ACCC considers this. It is covered by my submission to the ACCC.
There was considerable discussion about the failure of the magazine distributors to use the sales data provided by newsagents to set supply figures. In discussing data, a Bauer representative commented that there were many newsagency software packages, inferring working with them was difficult. I pointed out that they, Bauer, played a direct role in approving each newsagency software package for us.
Several newsagents challenged the ANF endorsement of the proposed new supply rule trial and that there had been no consultation. To this, the ANF CEO said there had been consultation citing an article in National Newsagent and a mention in an email to its members.
Had the ANF done its job it would have hosted national meetings where any newsagent could comment on the proposed trial. Indeed, the MPA could have organised such consultation. Instead, it relied on casual discussions with a select group of people and the submitted to the ACCC that it had consulted widely with all stakeholders.
newsXpress asked the MPA if they had sought to understand what newsagents who are growing magazine sales had done. The MPA representative said they had not and that it was not part of this trial.
Our view is that this trial is about researching efficiency gain opportunities for magazine distributors and publishers. Those goals are wrapped up to look like there is a benefit for newsagents.
The new magazine supply model outlined by the MPA in their submission to the ACCC does not provide newsagents with any significant benefits, it will not make us more competitive, it will not stop oversupply, it will not make magazines more profitable for newsagents, it will not stop newsagents reducing their commitment to magazines.
If the MPA did research newsagents who are growing magazine sales they would discover learnings which would be of more commercial benefit to the newsagency channel and magazine publishers.
This is a vitally important matter for all newsagents. newsXpress will continue to fight for a fair magazine supply model.
Newsagents ought to ask where the group they belong to is on this issue and why they were not at the conference.