Euro Newspapers Squawk at Apple’s Subscription Plan

The European Newspaper Publishers’ Association (ENPA) issued a statement Tuesday asking that tablet makers — specifically naming Apple, the only real name in tablets so far — to not get in between newspapers and subscribers. The Association is concerned that Apple’s desire to 30% from subscriptions will eat into the profits of an industry that is already struggling.

“Newspaper publishers spoke out following indications by Apple in many European countries that it may bring in new conditions for both online subscribers to newspapers and also for print subscribers, who have until now enjoyed access to their newspaper on iPad,” the Association said in a statement.

The concern amongst all publishers is twofold: Firstly, newspapers want to be able to offer subscription access online without paying Apple a cut. With this model, publishers offer free apps that include subscription access via a login.

Apple in Europe


Secondly, newspaper publishers have long cried foul at losing access to customer information by allowing Apple to manage in-app transactions. They want that information for advertising purposes, long a strongsuit in traditional newspaper business models, but Apple has refused to allow third party developers official access to customer information.

These concerns gained renewed attention when Apple and News Corp. announced The Daily, an iPad-only (for now) newspaper that can only be subscribed to through the App Store. Apple gets the same 30% of the subscription that it gets for all other App Store sales, at least for now — News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch has publicly stated that he hopes that percentage is lowered over time.

Apple has not yet announced what other publishers will be able to do with subscriptions, but the industry has been concerned that Apple will move rules into place that make The Daily’s terms the only terms for subscription access, especially when Apple rejected Sony’s ebook app earlier this month.

Apple has faced most of these concerns and pressures before from publishers, especially in the U.S. The potential difference when it comes to the ENPA is that there are plenty of government watchdog agencies in Europe that take a far more proactive approach to monitoring business practices that may have an affect on consumers than the U.S.

Apple may well feel entitled to demand a cut of any and all transactions that involve its ecosystem, but the European Union could have something to say about it. The ENPA’s call is a shot across Apple’s bow in this regard.

Indeed, the BBC reported Tuesday that Belgium’s economic ministry has already called for an official investigation into Apple’s newspaper subscription plans.

All this for a device that didn’t exist a year ago.