Menzies last week increased its carriage charge by 4.8%, one month after Smiths' announced a similar rise. Association of News Retailing (ANR) spokesman Shane Brennan said the latest charge hike would hit the bottom line of thousands of small shops across the country. "Unlike in any other part of their business retailers are not able to get product from elsewhere, and the competition authorities are standing by and allowing these wholesalers to abuse their position. This is a blatant example of a market that fails its consumers and the OFT must intervene," added Brennan, who is also Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) public affairs director.
The ANR has written to the Competition Commission highlighting problems in the news market. The ANR is also compiling its case for the Office of Fair Trading, in advance of the body's review into whether the news market should continue to be exempt from competition law.
News International (NI) has also come under fire for refusing to reduce its Sunday carriage charge, even though it is no longer delivering the News of the World. The National Federation of Retail Newsagents said retailers were being penalised by NI's Direct to Retail (DTR) scheme. If DTR retailers received NI titles from a wholesaler, carriage charges would be reduced because of a substantial reduction in news sheet value owing to the closure of the News of the World, a spokesman said.
"What NI has done is to turn its DTR arrangements into a discriminatory scheme, whereby most retailers who are supplied NI titles via a wholesaler are likely to see a reduction in carriage charges, whereas those that receive them via DTR will not," he added.