Retail associations have rounded on News International for increasing its carriage charge by 4.3% from next month.

News International, which publishes the Sun and The Times, delivers its own titles direct to retailers within the M25.

The rise comes three weeks before a crucial hearing at the Competition Appeal Tribunal brought by the ACS and the NFRN against the OFT decision earlier this year to not investigate the newstrade sector further. It also follows similar increases by wholesalers Smiths News and Menzies Distribution.

“These charges are imposed on retailers and they have no choice but to accept them,” said ACS CEO James Lowman. “This lack of choice is a basic unfairness that is at the root of the problems that hold back the news and magazine industry.”

NFRN national president Alan Smith was also critical. “Like other wholesalers, News International is claiming fuel prices and RPI have risen significantly and it has to manage its costs and operational efficiencies,” he said.

“Yet it is clear to us that it is unable to manage its costs and when these fall short they are simply passed on to retailers.”