Industry waits on new OFT bosses' verdict

The Office of Fair Trading’s outgoing chairman, John Vickers, who
has been criticised by publishers for his role in the row over magazine
distribution, was replaced by a new double act this week.

Philip
Collins has taken over as the OFT’s chairman, while John Fingleton
becomes chief executive – the first time the two roles have been split.

The
industry now awaits the watchdog’s final opinion on distribution
arrangements, hoping a compromise is more likely under the new bosses.

The
final opinion was due to be released last week, but the OFT cancelled
the announcement without explanation. Industry insiders speculate
Vickers may not have wanted his departure marred by a u-turn on the
issue.

In its draft opinion, the watchdog said distribution laws
were anti-competitive, prompting fears that the current system, which
guarantees supply of the full range of titles countrywide, could
collapse.

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