by Cathy Resmer
So Gannett, the parent company of the Burlington Free Press, is pushing a new distribution system in Mississippi. The free alt. weekly Jackson Free Press reports on it, specifically on how their new system is geared toward stifling the competition.
writer publisher Todd Stauffer outlines the problem:
Called The Distribution Network of Central Mississippi (TDN), TheClarion-Ledger’s service offers merchants in the area a special12-cubby plastic box to put in front of their stores, thus eliminatingthe “clutter” of individual boxes and racks—weekly papers, monthlymagazines, real estate guides, classifieds shoppers—that we findoutside a lot of gas stations and retailers around town. There’s asolution for grocery stores and other retailers in town who have aproliferation of racks inside their stores, too.
Of course, there’s a catch. In order to get the rack, the retailersigns a one-year contract giving The Clarion-Ledger/Gannett Co. theexclusive right to control the display of free-distributionpublications. Once you become a TDN stop, no one—including the JacksonFree Press—is allowed to put their own rack or box on the premises,even if it’s already one of our popular drops. We’re evicted.
That is, we’re evicted unless we pay for the “right” to place ourselvesin their rack—to distribute in places where we used to distributesimply with the permission of the manager or owner.
I understand that the Mafia in New York City has a similar system.
JFP Editor Donna Ladd speaks up in the comments thread:
This is actually worse than "typical," mrtha. This is a bald attemptto evict us from our distribution spots. It's truly amazing howdesperate they are. I would suggest doing real reporting if they're worried about dropping circulation. Be a good newspaper. It's not brain surgery.
However, this is a very serious threat for locally owned media. Goliathdoesn't have any moral center as far as I can tell, and will stomp outanyone they can. I urge you all to take this very seriously and speakup if you value local media. We'll be back in touch shortly withspecific ways you can help, but the main thing now is to Spread. The.Word. The people of Jackson need to know just how far thismega-corporation is willing to go to squelch competition.
Wonder if the BFP has something like this in mind?