Queensland Newsagents Federation and the Newsagents Association of NSW & ACT have made a submission to the Treasury, for their members on the current newspaper contracts. This comment that I thought was a good statement of some problems that newsagents face now.
Newsagents are small businesses and face major suppliers such as newspaper publishers, magazine publishers / distributors, suppliers of soft gambling products and landlords.
Conduct that newsagents regularly experience includes,
•Refusal to collectively negotiate – which seriously disadvantages individual newsagents
•Take it or leave it contracts.
•‘Lock in’ which prevents newsagents suffering unanticipated economic deterioration (circulation decline) from exiting
•No proper recognition of specific costs factors escalation which can obviously adversely impact on ‘locked in’ newsagents
•Newsagents getting less advantageous terms than big players like supermarkets
•Newsagents supplied and charged for products that they do not want.
•Unilateral variation of contracts.
They are certainly valid. These problems exist largely because newsagents used to have a monopoly on newspapers and magazines. So, as a result, ACCC started to look at newsagents. The price of the monopoly then was a cheap local delivery. Now the monopoly has gone yet the publishers of newspapers and the ACCC want the cheap local delivery of newspapers to continue.
What the ACCC did allow was voluntarily collective negotiations with newspaper publishers with a state newsagency body. As the publishers of newspapers do not wish to deal with the newsagents collectively, so they do not. This means that large individual players like supermarkets that in many ways are larger than all newsagencies can use their might to negotiate better terms, whereas newsagents cannot. Therefore, newsagents are being offered terrible terms with no negotiation.
What many newsagents that are refusing to sign these contracts are saying is "You can't have your cake and eat it too."