The National Federation of Retail Newsagents (NFRN) is calling for a new all-inclusive, legally underpinned Code of Practice on newspaper and magazine distribution, backed by a self-regulatory mechanism overseen by an industry-funded ombudsman.
The proposal comes in a 60-page submission that was presented to the OFT in response to its public consultation on news distribution.
In it the NFRN accepts that changes to UK competition law will make Absolute Territory Protection illegal in publisher-wholesaler contracts, but points out that neither the current review of newspaper and magazine distribution by the OFT nor the imminent review of the existing newspaper Code of Practice will be sufficient to improve the level of service to independent newsagents.
Central to its submission is the continued supply to independent newsagents, ensuring the availability of a broad range of titles.
A key element is a revised version of the Minimum Entry Level (MEL) criteria which guarantees a right of supply to retailers. This would be accompanied by minimum standards of service, key performance measurements and a self-regulatory mechanism with real "teeth".