Cover price rises inevitable – PPA

Consumer magazine price rises are “inevitable” if the removal of the cap on Royal Mail’s distribution charges goes ahead, warns the Periodical Publishers Association (PPA).

The trade body says “time is running out” for it to persuade postal regulator Postcomm that it should not take away pricing controls on Royal Mail’s Presstream magazine delivery product.

David Thomas, head of legal affairs at the PPA, claims that allowing the postal operator to set its own prices could result in huge cost hikes for publishers.

He is also concerned by the lack of nationwide, competitive magazine distribution services being planned by entrants to the postal market, which will be opened to competition in January.

“It is inevitable that publishers’ price increases would have to be paid for somehow. Some of the extra cost would likely be passed on to consumers through magazine price rises,” says Thomas.

The PPA, which represents nearly 400 companies publishing 2,260 consumer, business-to-business and contract titles, is expecting a Postcomm announcement in the next week.

This would herald the beginning of a final, three-month consultation period on the issue.

A Royal Mail spokesman says: “To compete in an open market it’s important we have the flexibility to determine the price of core products. We are aware of the PPA’s concern if Presstream came out of price control.”

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