Australian Newsagency Blog

A blog on issues affecting Australia's newsagents, media and small business generally.

The newspaper subscription disconnect on show

Mark Fletcher
June 15th, 2018 · 8 Comments

On 774 ABC radio in Melbourne yesterday, a caller called the open line to express frustration at newspaper subscription arrangements. I’ll do my best to recount what they said.

The caller has been a newspaper subscriber for decades. They love the physical paper and enjoy digital access that comes with their subscription.

Their local newsagent decided to withdraw from home delivery. The subscriber was okay with that, expecting they could walk the few hundred metres to pick up the paper.

The frustration comes from the newspaper publisher refusing to fulfil the subscription through a pick up service from the newsagency and that it took multiple emails and calls to get even mediocre resolution.

The newspaper publisher refunded the unused portion of the subscription, requiring the long-term customer to now purchase over the counter at full price, and too pay separately for digital subscription.

The caller had sympathy for the newsagent. The frustration they expressed was at the newspaper publisher.

Here are my thoughts on this:

  • Newspaper subscriptions should be available for pickup through newsagencies. I have proposed this many times for more than twenty years. It would be easy to manage and help reinforce consistent print product engagement. I am certain we could win new subscription customers.
  • Newspaper publishers should respect long-term customers rather than penalising them.
  • Publishers need better communication with subscribers. When things like this happen, they need to be more open and attentive.
  • It is like the publisher is pushing people from print to digital. This is a comment reinforced buy the newspaper subscriber during the call on ABC Radio.

This scenario will happen more as more newsagents withdraw from newspaper home delivery. Publishers should have a more consistent subscriber friendly approach. I have never been given a good reason for newsagents not selling and offering newspaper subscription supported by over the counter collection.


Category: Newspaper distribution · newspaper home delivery · Newspapers · Ugh!

8 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Kevin // Jun 15, 2018 at 10:13 AM

    Its very frustrating to read this. As a distribution newsagent we can very easily set up an automated workaround which would both meet the needs of being a publishers subscription, and have the paper being able to be picked up from a retail newsagency.


  • 2 Mark Fletcher // Jun 15, 2018 at 10:36 AM

    Kevin this is in a regional location with a low number of subscriptions. There is no newspaper distributor in that area at the moment.


  • 3 Subaru // Jun 15, 2018 at 12:01 PM

    Are they still considered a “full newsagent” by the paper companies? ie do they still get papers delivered and make the normal margin?
    Or are they now a subbie to someone else?


  • 4 Mark Fletcher // Jun 15, 2018 at 12:24 PM

    Subaru I don’t know as that was not mentioned by the caller to the radio station. However, as it is in Victoria and given how territory returns are handled there, I suspect they no longer have a publisher account.


  • 5 Gerard Munday // Jun 15, 2018 at 8:12 PM

    Both major publishers in Australia have so much opportunity. They have a retail network that could allow them to offer all sorts of retail subscriptions. They also have a delivery network that could offer different levels of delivery subscriptions to met customer needs. Put both of these with a technology platform that links publisher , distributor , retailer and customer and I wonder what you could have . How many businesses today would give to have this much opportunity .

    All this is so possible to make print media rediscover itself to give all players , including the customer, a brand new way of reading news.

    If only we would stop chasing the cheapest deal we can throw at a customer, and instead offer different retail and distribution offerings based around service, quality and expertise ….. charging customers accordingly.

    So much opportunity ….. only wish publishers could realise what they still have today …. and be brave enough to have a go .


  • 6 Graeme Day // Jun 15, 2018 at 8:27 PM

    Great comment Gerard. I wish the publishers would take notice. Unfortunately I think the current executive are caught up with the present and can’t link the consumer with what is it that they want rather than the problems they have.
    It’s more than a shame for if they had one bit retail sense they could turn their product into one that would find its true level rather than them send the print to the grave with an attitude that the public don’t want it.
    At least give the public the best option-look at books they haven,t and in my opinion will not die they will howeYDver be purchased differently and the majority with p[roper attention will remain in hard copy.


  • 7 Mark Fletcher // Jun 16, 2018 at 2:22 PM

    Yes, Gerard. That has been the pitch put to publishers by associations, individuals and others many times. For some reason, publishers have no interest.

    back in 2013, I said this:

    Elsewhere in this place I have said more about the opportunity of using the retail network. Maybe publishers will realise when it is too late.


  • 8 Jenny // Jun 26, 2018 at 8:23 PM

    As a distributor we have always had pick up subscriptions from our retail store (approved by both Fairfax and News) for non delivery area customers, but only at our retail store, not from any of our subagents.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Reload Image