Heseltine team may challenge OFT decision

The “Heseltine group” of industry chiefs, who fear changes to press
distribution could spell the end for thousands of small magazines, has
said it will consider a judicial review if the Office of Fair Trading’s
final opinion on the issue goes against them.

It follows a
meeting of magazine and newspaper publishers, wholesalers and small
independent retailers, convened last week by Tory peer and Haymarket
owner Michael Heseltine.

In its provisional opinion, the OFT held
that the present system of newspaper distribution was compatible with
competition law, but that in the case of magazines, the restriction on
passive sales from outside exclusive territories should be lifted.

Magazine
publishers claim this would allow the multiple retailers to disrupt the
present supply chain by being able to choose a different wholesaler,
thereby increasing the costs of supply to smaller independent retailers.

This could potentially drive many newsagents and niche magazines out of business, they claim.

Heseltine
has urged the Government, which so far has distanced itself from the
issue, to become involved. The final OFT opinion is expected in early
September.

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