Fifteen top magazine publishers met Royal Mail representatives this week to raise serious concerns about the impact of size-based pricing on covermounts and paginations.
The Royal Mail’s plan to introduce the new pricing system threatens thousands of consumer and B2B titles that offer everything from flip-flops to DVDs and sunglasses as part of an “added value” packages to boost sales.
It could also lead to a spate of cuts in other areas as a result of publishers facing higher costs to produce a heavier package.
Ian Locks, chief executive of the Periodical Publishers’ Association, said: “Grave concerns were expressed about the ability of the Royal Mail to implement such a system fairly. We pressed them very hard on two central issues. Most of the questions came down to uniformity and flexibility.”
The Royal Mail says that for a magazine to be mailed as A4, the surface must be uniform and the package flexible, which would push it into a higher price bracket, doubling postal costs.
There was further concern about inserts and the impact on pagination, which could lead to publishers having to turn down advertising.
Locks told Press Gazette that publishers had put pressure on the Royal Mail to be more explicit about the potential implications.
“The big question for the Royal Mail, and we’ll be pushing the regulator on this, is how they are going to administer this in practice,” he added.
“Currently, a weight is a weight.
Under the new system, there could be many grey areas, such as whether a packet is ‘uniform’ or ‘flexible’.
Publishers doubt the ability to implement such a scheme fairly because it relies on people’s judgement, rather than something that is completely objective, such as a weight.”
By Ruth Addicott