The absolute essentials of the Swiss press distribution system

Our press dis­tri­b­u­tion sys­tem stands on five pil­lars. These essen­tials serve a sin­gle goal: the neu­tral­i­ty of press dis­tri­b­u­tion must be guar­an­teed in Switzer­land. Neu­tral dis­tri­b­u­tion alone guar­an­tees the great­est pos­si­ble diver­si­ty of opin­ion. Above all, this frag­ile, bal­anced sys­tem guar­an­tees that all titles are avail­able every­where. For this rea­son, it is impos­si­ble to remove a sin­gle pil­lar: All five pil­lars togeth­er guar­an­tee the sta­bil­i­ty and con­ti­nu­ity of the sys­tem.




How can we define the essentials ensuring that titles can be reliably obtained everywhere?

The cru­cial ques­tions about the essen­tials:


Why are sole distribution rights important?

The press wholesaler’s sole ter­ri­to­r­i­al dis­tri­b­u­tion right includes pub­lish­ers’ sole dis­tri­b­u­tion oblig­a­tion and retail­ers’ sole pur­chas­ing oblig­a­tion. This right ensures that the entire ter­ri­to­ry receives broad, com­pre­hen­sive cov­er, thus strength­en­ing effi­cien­cy. News­pa­pers and mag­a­zines are rapid­ly per­ish­able goods that must be trans­port­ed extreme­ly quick­ly. Were par­al­lel dis­tri­b­u­tion orga­ni­za­tions to be set up with­out sole dis­tri­b­u­tion rights, busi­ness man­age­ment deci­sions would lead to sup­plies being lim­it­ed to titles that sell well.


Why is the right of distribution important?

The press wholesaler’s right of dis­tri­b­u­tion enables it to deter­mine which prod­ucts are to be stocked by a retail­er and in what quan­ti­ties. This keeps the num­ber of returns as low as pos­si­ble. Nobody makes mon­ey from returned mag­a­zines and news­pa­pers. But the right of dis­tri­b­u­tion is also essen­tial if the prin­ci­ple of neu­tral­i­ty is to be guar­an­teed: with­out it, out­lets would lim­it them­selves to titles with a high cir­cu­la­tion, or stock only cer­tain titles because of their tastes or polit­i­cal con­vic­tions.


Why is the right of return important?

The right of return allows retail­ers and press whole­salers to return unsold titles free of charge for cred­it at cost price. The sales risk is borne by the pub­lish­er. The right of return is thus cen­tral to the neu­tral­i­ty of press dis­tri­b­u­tion: with­out it, high-cir­cu­la­tion print-media prod­ucts would be favoured and the vari­ety of titles would shrink.


Why is price fixing important?

Because the sell­ing price of a title is set by the pub­lish­er, mag­a­zines and news­pa­pers are sold at the same price through­out Switzer­land – which is fair and rea­son­able from the per­spec­tive of demo­c­ra­t­ic pol­i­cy. If price fix­ing were to be abol­ished, retail­ers would con­cen­trate their print-media ranges on high-mar­gin prod­ucts that are easy to sell.


Why is the usage requirement important?

Press whole­salers require retail­ers to offer prod­ucts exclu­sive­ly for retail sale in Switzer­land and the Prin­ci­pal­i­ty of Liecht­en­stein. This pre­vents retail­ers from selec­tive­ly act­ing as whole­salers for attrac­tive indi­vid­ual titles or com­mer­cial­ly inter­est­ing sub­ject areas. The usage require­ment ensures the sup­ply of all titles offered through­out Switzer­land and Liecht­en­stein.