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Industry group urged to inform constituents of newsagent progress



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Minister for Financial Services and Regulation Federal Member for North Sydney

MEDIA RELEASE INDUSTRY GROUPS URGED TO INFORM CONSTITUENTS OF NEWSAGENT PROGRESS

The Minister for Financial Services and Regulation, Joe Hockey, yesterday received the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s report on the recent consultations between industry participants in news print distribution.

Over 80 meetings have occurred since December, including with the Minister, the ACCC, publishers, newsagents, sub-agents and convenience stores.

The consultations have brought industry participants together for the first time to actively consult about proposals for the future directions of the newspaper and magazine distribution industry. -

This process was necessitated by the November 1998 decision of the Australian Competition Tribunal (ACT), formerly known as the Trade Practices Tribunal, which ruled that certain aspects of the current distribution arrangements breach the Trade Practices Act.

Consultations have been characterised by goodwill on all sides and have not been adversarial.

The ACCC report contains information of a commercially sensitive nature. Therefore, the report will not be released at this time.

“We will now evaluate and consider the detailed contents of the report,” the Minister said.

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“I now strongly urge the Australian Newsagents Federation (ANF) and relevant publishers, including News Corporation, Fairfax, Consolidated Press, Pacific Magazines and others, to finalise the proposed commercial framework and to take these proposals to their constituents - the 5000 newsagents, the 30,000 sub-agents and

convenience stores.”

The Minister said he would continue to monitor developments as they unfold and help facilitate further discussions where parties are treated on an equal basis.

He expressed confidence that, in the face of rapidly changing uses of technology, a solid foundation for newsagents’ future was being laid in the most constructive way possible.

Newsagents have been living under a cloud of uncertainty since the Tribunal first flagged anti-competitive problems.

“This uncertainty has been a dead weight on newsagents’ backs since 1977 and we are looking for a solution that provides long-term commercial viability for the industry,” the Minister said.

“I hope these proposals will develop a commercial industry structure which will not require further legal wrangling.”

1 April 1999 13/99

Media contact: Matthew Abbott, Minister’s office 02 6277 7230,0413 076213

The Minister’s media releases and speeches are available on www.minfsr.treasurv.gov.au *-