Publishers’ association will cooperate with probe into alleged cartel behaviour

30 August 2018 - 16:56 By Nico Gous
The Publishers’ Association of South Africa says it noted the investigation by the Competition Commission reassuring that it would cooperate in that regard
The Publishers’ Association of South Africa says it noted the investigation by the Competition Commission reassuring that it would cooperate in that regard
Image: svl861 / 123RF Stock Photo

The Publishers’ Association of South Africa (PASA) says it is cooperating with an investigation by the Competition Commission into possible cartel behaviour by the local publishing industry.

The Competition Commission announced on Wednesday that it would investigate PASA and its 91 members for allegedly fixing book prices.

“PASA notes that its Constitution and Code of conduct do not allow the Association (PASA) and its members to get involved or participate in anti-competitive practices‚” PASA executive director Mpuka Radinku said in a short statement on Thursday.

Announcing the probe on Wednesday‚ the Competition Commission said: “Commissioner [Tembinkosi Bonakele] received information pointing to the fact that the association and its members who are publishers‚ book importers and sellers of books to government departments‚ educational institutions‚ retailers among others‚ may have been involved in fixing prices of books in contravention of the Competition Act.”

It said PASA and its members had allegedly agreed to fix prices for and trading conditions for: - Pre-school to Grade 12 books‚ associated teachers’ guides and support materials. - Student textbooks‚ learning material‚ associated teachers’ guides and support material for Technical and Vocational Education and Training Colleges (TVET). - Textbooks and other publications for learning at tertiary education institutions. - Trade books (books for sale to the general public); and - eBooks.

The commission added that an alleged price-fixing arrangement “appears to be historic in the industry dating back as early as [the] 1980s”.

“Given how widespread the practice is and the importance of the products‚ we expect the participants to cooperate with the investigation by‚ among other things‚ immediately bringing their cartel activities to a stop and approaching the Competition Commission.”

PASA members include Penguin Random House‚ Jonathan Ball Publishers‚ Juta‚ LAPA Publishers‚ Macmillan South Africa‚ Pan Macmillan‚ NB Publishers and Tafelberg.

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