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Last Updated: Monday, 13 March 2006, 23:34 GMT
OFT signals U-turn on magazines
Magazines for sale
Magazines are distributed via regional monopolies
The Office of Fair Trading has signalled that it may abandon its controversial plans to overhaul the magazine distribution industry.

Last year the OFT said the current system operated by magazine wholesalers broke EU anti-competition regulations.

It gives distributors regional monopolies in return for delivering to all retailers at the same price.

Some retail groups and publishers opposed the OFT ruling, saying it could send newsagents out of business.

Further evidence

On Monday the OFT said it would issue a revised opinion in May, after getting more feedback from the industry.

May's draft opinion will set out its new views and its reasons for them, before the OFT takes further evidence from the industry and makes a final opinion in the autumn.

Many industry groups fear that if magazine distribution is opened to free competition then big magazine retailers, such as supermarkets, will take the opportunity to sign cheaper, exclusive, distribution deals with wholesalers.

The Periodical Publishers Association (PPA) says that would leave independent news retailers to pay more for their smaller deliveries to more out-of-the-way places.

Currently, wholesalers' distribution contracts cover newspapers as well as magazines, and there are concerns that separating the two would make it less economical to distribute newspapers to some areas.

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