The latest communication by the MPA is a real beaut. You will find it here.
It is a two-pronged attack, firstly, which should be seen as an introduction is against Mr. Fletcher from newsXpress. This is I think the result of the fight we have seen by the ANF and him back and forward, in front of the ACCC. In my view, this fight is not helping the people that both want to help. In a tribunal or court in front of judges, clearly too many are being caught up in the glory of the moment and losing sight of the goal. In front of the ACCC is not the place to attack your representative. At present, ACCC feels that the ANF represents newsagents. You want a representative who argues what you want, you do this outside the tribunal. All this conflict is doing is proving to the tribunal that one side is unclear of what it wants, it is in conflict and that certainly weakens that side. This must stop.
This moves to the second point of the MPA's letter which appears to me to being the main crux of their letter (certainly by space and word count) . It's basically an attack on us on the issue of the lack of transparency of the pilot trial. I was upset that the MPA did not even give us advanced warning that they were going to argue this.
The ACCC in the conference, agreed with me that the trials need to be transparent. Then not even the MPA disagreed with that. In fact, the ACCC has asked several times before and after the conference that these trials need to be transparent. Despite this, the MPA states it "does not intend to make public all raw data obtained from the Pilot at the conclusion of the Pilot."
The big issue with their current proposal that the data that is released will most likely be de-identified possibly even more would be affected.
Absurd! The position of the shop is vital, to the pilot for the public (magazine sellers) not just for the ACCC to assess the success of the pilot. I know a shop in a shopping centre that is pushing tattoo magazines. It is working as they are selling heaps and heaps more tattoo magazines. What does this mean to magazine sellers? Does that mean magazine sellers should push tattoo magazines much more than they do now? In reality, it means nothing to most magazine sellers as the shop is right next to a naval base filled with people that have many more tattoos then the Australian average. In fact, in many areas a magazine seller may actually offend people who do not like tattoos, if they attempted to copy this tattoo sale trying to chase sales of tattoo magazines that are not there for them. This shows the danger of a shop being de-identified.
There is a great danger of having a shop de-identified. If you go into such a trial, I would argue that you must be identified because only then can the relevance of the data be assessed by the public.
Then next point is what misuse of the raw data cannot anyone do if the raw data is released? Why argue that third parties (us???) have an agenda, I would argue that everyone has an agenda! I do not pretend otherwise. What is the agenda of the magazine distributors? Do we have to hear possibly only their agenda in the analysis? Is there is something wrong with having several people with different agendas, presenting their results to enable the public to help them make an informed decision?
I have no problem with the company selected by the magazine distributors to do the analytics Boston Analytics. Although I will say going through their website, I find nothing about magazines and newsagents or newsagencies and very little about Australia and/or retail.
Also why should the MPA ask that this discussion on transparency be delayed? What is the point of the delay? The ACCC has already stated that it should be transparent and there is no reason to believe that they would change their mind. I would argue if it's not transparent, it is not what the ACCC requested.
Finally, I do not see why the MPA should drop the pilot program if the pilot is made transparent. In the absence of a good explanation, many will see the reasons for this drop as something else like the claim that they are not getting what they wanted "no early returns"