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Wholesaler fee rise could put papers out of business, NMA warns

David_DinsmoreThe 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.


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  • April 17, 2018 at 9:06 am

    Sorry but it needs increasing. They are doing the job for peanuts as it is. Smiths depots have been closed all over the country as well due to the downturn so they have not been exempt from suffering but even though that has been the case and caused them to drive many more miles the prices have barely gone up. The drivers are paid less than minimum wage when all outgoings and expenditures are factored in all while having to work 364 days a year with no holidays or entitlement to any.

    You can’t remove huge amounts of papers and titles and expect the same price for a few copies to go around, what sometimes is a massive area all while still being provided with all the layers of tracking and management everyone expects or needs.

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  • April 17, 2018 at 11:44 am

    Time for the industry to get together and by-pass the wholesalers.

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  • April 17, 2018 at 12:13 pm

    @Voice of reason. Not a hope in hell I’m afraid. If you knew how little they actually charged and how much dedicated vehicles with single titles on them would cost without the Nationals you’d be shocked. Added to that setting up systems to track in line with ABC and the staff to manage it would be enough to finish off a lot of titles. I’d estimate it would end up costing most publishers at least 4x the current increased costing if not a lot more when you see what a wide area some titles cover. If it could be done cheaper it would’ve been already as most distribution and management is already hammered down to about 25% of what it was 8 years ago. Quality on the other hand is another matter

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  • April 18, 2018 at 6:26 am

    With regional press newspaper copy sales in the floor and reflecting just how little interest there is in them these days with no possibility of a reversal,and with advertising revenues in free fall and dropping further, distribution costs add further weight to the case for converting printed copies to digital online only editions.
    When costs outweigh income and revenues as is happening now right across the industry,there is no other alternative,
    It’s either that or title closure,propping up titles who’ve lost their audiences is no longer an option.

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