European publishers warn Apple over online newspaper subscriptions

A group of European newspaper publishers has complained to Apple about its revenue split for iTunes digital subscriptions.

The European Newspaper Publishers’ Association (ENPA) says it wants technology companies to ensure that newspaper subscribers can continue to access online news content on tablets and other devices without restrictive conditions.

Apple has indicated that in many European countries it may bring in new conditions for online subscribers – but also for print subscribers, who have until now been able to access their newspaper on the iPad.

It has been looking for a 30 percent commission on iTunes sales, while – potentially – reserving the right to bar newspapers from selling subscriptions on their own websites.

The move could also hamper newspapers’ marketing efforts. “The business model of newspapers is dependent on publishers and editors knowing their readers,” says ENPA.

“It is essential that this close connection is maintained. Without direct access to their subscribers, this vital bond between newspapers and readers would be broken, to the detriment of both.”

Newspaper publishers should have the freedom to set different payment methods and be able to negotiate pricing levels for their digital publications, it says.

“The print edition of a newspaper remains the engine room creating an incredible range of news and informative content,” said ENPA vice-president and chair of the Digital Task Force, Valdo Lehari.

“In the current environment, new online and mobile business models often operate in combination with the print edition.”