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Resolution ofthe 8thEuropean Press Distribution Round Table

 Resolution ofthe 8thEuropean Press Distribution Round Table

The participants of the 8thEuropean Press Distribution Round Table held in Moscow (Russian Federation), who represented the distribution companies and leading public organizations of media industry of Great Britain (Press Distributors Forum), Spain (FANDE, UDNE and ANDP), Italy (ADN) and Russia (ARPP), confirm their commitment to support the freedom of expression and the development of independent media, their commitment to the freedom of speech on the media scene and creating conditions for equal publicaccess to information regardless of political, economic or any other market environment.

Ensuring the freedom of speech and press as well as the active support of independent journalism should be viewed as an indispensable condition for the development of contemporary society and the vital values which must beprotected. Any attempts to censor the free press or to interferewith the confidentiality of information sources or to limit or obstruct the free press or itsdissemination channels should be resisted and seen as a clear and present threat to democracy.

In assessing the current state and development trends of print media industry, the conference participants proceed on the basis that the traditional papereditions continue to exercise their socially important function and are in demand with society; and the activity concerning their distribution is still a socially important service.

The conference participants stick to the opinion that the processes, presently occurring on the print media market in most countries, are similar and they are characterized by reduced circulation, drop in sales volume, closure of a considerable number of small-scale newspapers and magazines, and in some markets closure of distributors and press specialist points of sales.

Such trends are primarily caused by situations of economic and technologicalnature. In addition to the effects of the global financial crisis of 2008-2009, that significantly aggravated the situation in the field of traditional media, today the paper versions of newspapers and magazines are faced with an increasing competition on the part of the Internet and rapid development ofelectronic storage media which also has a negative impact on the current state of affairs and future trendsin respect ofproduction and distribution of periodicals.

However, the press still shows a good return on investments compared to many other product groups. It is a profitable product for retail traders;it provides the civil society’s participation in public policy and expands the opportunities for advancing democratic initiatives and outspreading political culture and knowledge.

As practical steps in support of the print media market, the participants of the 8thEuropean Press Distribution Round Table recommend the government agencies, authorities, publishers and distributors of newspapers and magazines take no measures aimed at limiting the effective performance of the print periodicals distribution system.

With the aim of protecting media pluralism, modernization and diversification of the press business in the multi-media direction, the conference participants deem it appropriate to continue advancing the regulatory framework by government or self-regulation as appropriate. The regulatory acts must take into account the peculiarities and specific characteristics of each country, prevent monopolization and unwarranted interference with the mass media activity, contribute topreserving favorable conditions for healthy competition, protect from political and business pressure.

Using the experience of a number of countries with a zero value-added tax rate (VAT) or a lower one in comparison with common rate, provided by statute in regard to periodicals and their distribution systems, would be aconsiderable support for the print media.

It is also reasonable in some countries of the European continent where necessarytofinda way of providing the state support for the print media(publishers, distributors and points of sale) both using the direct financial investments and taking indirect measures as the benefits concerning taxes, customs, post, telegraph, etc.

The conference participants have calledfor stimulatingsponsorshipof national programs aimed at preserving and extending the readership as well as implementing various projects in order to attract young peopleand get them interested in reading. The implementation of these initiatives creates favorable conditions for raising the political and cultural level of the youth and also providesfurtheropportunities for forming a sense of patriotism.

Among the tasks to be solved by distributors in order to provide the most convenient conditions for the public concerning purchase of periodicals and increase intheir sales, the efforts should be made aimed at increasing the number of points of sale, providing guaranteed long-term delivery reliability, developing measures aimed at optimizing the press sales and improving product presentation.

Considering the decline in advertising revenues in print mediain recentyears, the participants of the 8thEuropean Press Distribution Round Table recommend newspapers and magazine publishers, whose activity is independent or to only a small extent dependent on advertisers, to refocus their businesses on receivingthe basic income primarily from the circulation sales, and consider the budget replenishment at the expense of advertising profitas a supplement.

The present resolution is of advisory nature, however the participants of the 8thEuropean Press Distribution Round Table voice a hope that the suggestions contained herein will be taken into account in implementingthe measures for ensuring freedom ofopinion and expressionandthe readersfree access to printed materials as well as for effective functioning of independent and free mass media.

Moscow, June 2013