European newspaper publishers warn Apple on iPad subscriptions

The European Newspaper Publishers’ Association (ENPA) has stated that publishers should be free to set their own pricing and collect subscription revenue for digital publications.

ENPA, which represents some 5,200 national, regional and local newspapers in the European Union, as well as Norway and Switzerland, wants “to ensure that newspaper subscribers can continue to enjoy access to news content on tablets and other online services, without any restrictive conditions.”

ENPA vice-president and chair of digital task force Valdo Lehari Jr said: “The print edition of a newspaper remains the engine room creating an incredible range of news and informative content. In the current environment, new online and mobile business models often operate in combination with the print edition.”

The statement from ENPA praises the iPad and other tablet devices for providing a “fantastic” platform for the development of digital newspapers, but insisted that publishers and publishers alone should be responsible for subscriptions.

“Newspaper publishers should have freedom of choice of payment systems for their readers and the possibility to negotiate pricing levels for their digital publications,” the statement reads.

The warning comes after growing concerns about Apple’s plans to introduce new conditions for subscribers to digital newspapers. ENPA is unhappy that Apple wants all transactions to be made through iTunes where commission will be applied.

Last month, Macworld UK reported that several European newspapers claimed they had been told by Apple that they would no longer be allowed to offer free access to iPad editions of their publications to print subscribers.

Dutch MP Afke Schaart questioned whether such rules, which Apple reportedly wants to enforce by April 1, would constitute abuse of a monopoly position.

Meanwhile in the US, News Corp last week launched The Daily, a subscription-based digital newspaper for iPad. This coincided with Apple's introduction of a facility for charging fees within iOS apps for the first time.

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