Although it said that “certain features of the sector meet the statutory test for reference” to the Competition Commission, it believes self-regulation would be more beneficial.
The OFT will also ask the Government to release wholesalers from the National Newspapers Code of Practice, a commitment they made in 1994 to supply all new retailers who agree to a minimum weekly purchase of newspapers.
The OFT believes that there are now greater commercial incentives to supply new retail outlets than when the Code was introduced.
In 2006, the National Federation of Retail Newsagents made a formal request to the OFT to refer the magazine and distribution sector.
The OFT will now carry out a consultation, with a decision expected next year.
OFT chief executive John Fingleton said: “Being able to get newspapers and magazines where and when they want them, at keenly competitive prices, matters hugely to consumers. We are recommending a release from regulatory restrictions, while the industry should now take a close look at its own arrangements. We hope that once it has done this, our work in this important sector will enable competition to deliver even better outcomes.”