Presstream 2 campaign gets more weight

A postal services watchdog and 40 MPs have added their weight to the campaign to retain price controls on the second-class delivery service, Presstream 2, writes Colin Crummy.

The Presstream system ensures Royal Mail keeps prices capped on delivery of subscription-based magazines. Postcomm, the postal service regulator, has said this should become deregulated from next month. This proposal was partially revised in December last year when it decided not to deregulate Presstream 1, the next-day delivery service, for a further four years.

The proposals remain for Presstream 2, second-class deliveries, which affects many subscription-based monthlies and B2B titles. The consultation period closed this week.

An Early Day Motion signed by 40 MPs expressed a fear that "magazine publishers will be exposed to significant price increases due to lack of regulatory controls and no notable competitive option for at least the next five years, to the ultimate detriment of consumers".

Postal services watchdog Postwatch added: "It is clear that the real basis for Postcomm’s decision is the competition that Postcomm expects to develop.

There is no real evidence that competition for Presstream 2 presently exists sufficient to protect customers, and therefore justify the removal of this product from the control."

Nicola Rowe, PPA director of circulation, said Postcomm’s decision was "significant" since 75 per cent of postal magazine traffic uses Presstream.

"What it means if Presstream 2 moves out of its present control is that there’s no regulatory protection and potentially Royal Mail can do what it likes in terms of price increases."

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