The magazine market could be opened up to new wholesalers following calls from the OFT to relax distribution laws.

Newspaper and magazine distribution is currently dominated by three wholesalers – Dawson News, Smiths News and Menzies Distribution – who are granted exclusive distribution territories by publishers and distributors, meaning retailers can’t choose their magazine supplier.

In a long-awaited report, the OFT this week said that although this system was working for time-sensitive newspaper distribution, there was scope to increase competition for magazine distribution. This could pave the way for more wholesalers to distribute magazines, said one senior newstrade source, although, of the larger wholesalers, only CostCo is understood to be interested.

The OFT’s proposal disregarded time-sensitive magazines, said Periodical Publishers Association CEO John Shephard. “What is missing is a full appreciation of the value of time-sensitive magazines, including TV listings magazines and the many weekly news and women’s interests titles,” he said. “These make up a high proportion of total magazine volumes and values.”