Blair promises distribution probe on niche magazines

Britain’s
leading magazine editors have secured a promise from Tony Blair to
“personally” look into the issue of press distribution, amid fears that
hundreds of niche magazines could close.

More than 100 members of
the British Society of Magazine Editors (BSME), headed by GQ editor
Dylan Jones, met the Prime Minister on 31 March as part of Blair’s
pre-election strategy to woo voters.

The editors told Blair of
their fears for the press distribution network, following an
announcement from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) that current
arrangements are breaking competition law.

According to the
Periodical Publishers’ Association (PPA), Blair emphasised the
independence of the OFT and said if the results of the ruling were as
described to him they “would indeed be serious”. He is due to
correspond with Jones over the issue.

Jones said: “Blair answered questions for a lot longer than he was scheduled to, so everyone was delighted.

“We are due to meet up with him again in the next two weeks to brief him fully on the OFT decision.”

Sarah
Miller, former BSME chair and editor of Condé Nast Traveller, said: “It
was encouraging to hear the PM taking this on board and I welcome the
chance as a magazine editor to discuss this with him further, the
sooner the better.”

More than 30 editors have also signed a
letter calling on Blair to take steps to protect the country’s free
press and people’s access to magazines and newspapers.

A campaigning website has been launched at www.freeanddiversepress.com The OFT is to give a full written opinion on the matter by 18 April, before a month’s consultation period.

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