PPA warns lifting of postal controls will hit B2B sector

By Alyson Fixter

Business-to-business magazines that depend on doorstep distribution
could suffer under plans to end price controls on press postage, the
Periodical Publishers’ Association (PPA) has warned.

The current Presstream system, which forces Royal Mail to keep
prices low for subscription-based magazines, will be unregulated from
April 2006 under proposals from the postal services regulator, Postcomm.

The PPA is bringing in consultants to draw up a strategy to help affected magazines deal with the new system.

said it believed publishers would be protected from soaring prices
because there was sufficient competition in the market to keep charges

But Ian Locks, PPA chief executive, said: “The competitive
playing field for the Presstream service is set within the context of
the postal delivery of magazines.

“Other channels of
distribution, such as the newstrade supply chain, simply cannot be
regarded as competitors since in the case of almost all
business-tobusiness and most customer magazines, newsstand distribution
is not an alternative as the reader does not pay for the publication.

decision by the regulator poses a major new challenge for magazine
publishers, especially coming with the introduction of size-based
pricing.” The PPA has argued that, due to the limited geographical
reach of alternative operators, there is currently no effective
competition to Royal Mail, a situation unlikely to change for the
foreseeable future.

A spokesman added: “PPA is also concerned at
Postcomm’s apparent failure to understand that for many magazines, the
retail supply chain is simply not a viable route to market.”

spokesman for Postcomm said: “A combination of non-postal and
post-onpost competition for Presstream products means customers’
interests can be protected without a price control.”

three-month consultation period on the proposals is under way. The PPA
said it would be consulting with members on its response.


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