Written evidence submitted by Big Spark
Re the LMA/OFT/monopolies situation, this is
a view from a small contract publisher.
We are a small publisher in Horwich, BoltonBig
Spark Publishing Limited, in a difficult time we are doing OK.
I and my business partner have had a long standing
desire to publish local newspapers, this year we launched our
first title the monthly "Cheshire Independent" which
has been a resounding success and was in profit from issue 1.
Following on from "Cheshire" we have,
last month, launched 2 more newspapersone in Bury
and the other in Bolton, again, launched with a profit.
These are very simple, efficient models that
give the local reader and advertiser a service that they like
and want, no different to what used to happen in the 60's and
The present situation with the big monopoly
publishing groups is of their own making, they have systematically
raped and pillaged the local/regional newspaper industry purely
for their profit with little or no regard for their two streams
of customerthey have now been found out.
Jobs and Motors advertising has been overpriced
and has now been lost to the Internet through their own greed
the cost of Job advertising has always been at a premium
To allow them to further grab as much of the
action as possible under the guise of the threat of the Internet,
just does not work at the level of local publishing, there are
thousands of small businesses who have been "priced-out"
of advertising locally because they cannot buy "small",
the offer from the "big boys" is "use us, pay inflated
ad rates, you can't go solely in your local paper you will have
to buy a cluster of titlesthere is no other choiceso
The LMA members are simply trying to protect
their profit base with no regard to their customers, their cushy
plan over the last 30 years has now run it's course, they
need to change, look at themselves and ask what do their customer
At the local level it's not the big advertisers
who are deserting the local pressmany were not there anyway,
it's the "buy local" and the "shop local"
that have been let downthese guys don't buy big on the
We are talking "Parish Pump" editorial
content here, the local charity, the Harvest Festival, the local
school, etc etc.
I can tell you now that if you get on the street
and ask the local small businessman what he thinks of the LMA
"big boys" he will tell you he is sick and tired of
them and is looking for an alternative.
We are simply a "pin head" in this
industry, but we are giving our customers what they want, by allowing
this lot to get an even bigger slice you are removing the opportunity
for little fellas like us to fill these small local publishing
voidsbelieve me these people are not short of a sly trick
or two if they think their pot of gold is to diminish.
If the OFT accept the LMA position small publishers
like ourselves will be in a difficult, aggressive marketplace,
the potential to recruit good newspaper ad sales people will be
virtually impossible because of contractual covenants and baring
out clauses inserted in salespeople's contractsit's hard
enough now to get around that one without being hit with some
spurious last minute legal threat, as has happened to us recently.
This move is not FAIR TRADING this is more greedturn
it down now!