The OFT's opinion on the legality of the current distribution arrangements in the magazine industry was issued on 13 March when it announced that it was withdrawing its preliminary conclusions from last year. This means that its prior assessment, which was that the exclusive rights benefiting certain specified wholesalers should be terminated in order to open up the market, will now be replaced by a fresh decision which will be reached around the end of May. The change of heart is good news for magazine publishers who have been lobbying against reform, claiming that the freeing up of the distribution system would play into the hands of the large supermarkets who would gain market power at the expense of small retailers. Another 'twist to the story' is that the DTI has hinted that it may take the question of the future of the UK's magazine distribution out of the hands of the OFT.
Future of Magazine Distribution Still in Limbo