The News Media Association has urged the UK’s leading newspaper wholesaler to reconsider imposing “massive” fee increases on independent publishers which it says could put some out of business.
The NMA, the trade body for the regional and national press, has called on Smiths News to abandon a plan which could see fees increase by anything between 50pc and 167pc.
The NMA claims Smiths has been threatening to stop distributing the titles unless they agreed to the new terms.
In a letter to Smiths News senior business manager Gavin Fraser, NMA chairman David Dinsmore said he was “very concerned” by any such proposal.
He wrote: “This demand comes at the worst possible time for local newspapers, particularly the smaller, family-owned, independent weekly publishers which Smiths News appears to be targeting. You may be aware that a number of local newspapers have been forced to close or sell in the past two years.
“All local publishers have had to cut costs in every part of the business to remain viable and provide their communities with the local journalism on which they rely.
David, pictured, added: “We are very concerned to learn that Smiths News has been threatening to impose massive fee increases of more than 50pc – and even 167pc in one case – on some of our smallest local members. Unless they agree to the new terms, you say you will no longer distribute their titles.
“Smiths News is often the monopoly wholesale distributor in their areas so they have nowhere else to turn. In these challenging times for local newspapers, the sort of price increases you are seeking could easily put them out of business.”
HTFP has asked Smiths for a comment.