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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Gannett's new distribution strategy in Mississippi

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.

JFP writer publisher Todd Stauffer outlines the problem:

Called The Distribution Network of Central Mississippi (TDN), The Clarion-Ledger’s service offers merchants in the area a special 12-cubby plastic box to put in front of their stores, thus eliminating the “clutter” of individual boxes and racks—weekly papers, monthly magazines, real estate guides, classifieds shoppers—that we find outside a lot of gas stations and retailers around town. There’s a solution for grocery stores and other retailers in town who have a proliferation of racks inside their stores, too.

Of course, there’s a catch. In order to get the rack, the retailer signs a one-year contract giving The Clarion-Ledger/Gannett Co. the exclusive right to control the display of free-distribution publications. Once you become a TDN stop, no one—including the Jackson Free 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 ourselves in their rack—to distribute in places where we used to distribute simply 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 attempt to evict us from our distribution spots. It's truly amazing how desperate 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. Goliath doesn't have any moral center as far as I can tell, and will stomp out anyone they can. I urge you all to take this very seriously and speak up if you value local media. We'll be back in touch shortly with specific ways you can help, but the main thing now is to Spread. The. Word. The people of Jackson need to know just how far this mega-corporation is willing to go to squelch competition.

Wonder if the BFP has something like this in mind?

May 16, 2006 at 10:18 AM in Media/Keeping an eye on the competition | Permalink

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Comments

Perhaps this is why BFP writer Sam Hemingway, at the Leadership Champlain panel last week, said that Gannett's ownership of the BFP is "disturbing."

Posted by: cresmer | May 16, 2006 10:22:53 AM

disturbing indeed

Posted by: evening | May 16, 2006 12:44:00 PM

The Springfield Republican tried that here in Western Massachusetts a year and a half ago. Sounds pretty similar to the Mississipi story. The Republican eventually backed down when we got the convenience stores and cafes involved and explained to them to heavy-handed technique. Most felt tricked by the way the Republican had gone about it.

Posted by: Andrew Varnon | May 17, 2006 3:09:34 PM

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