Fairfax dumping 28 community and rural newspapers

Last year when the Commerce Commission denied a bid by Fairfax and NZME to merge it was suggested that regional newspapers may be dumped. Yesterday Fairfax announced that they would sell or close 28 regional and rural newspapers.

May 2017: Fairfax may cut newspapers after merger with NZME denied

Cuts to regional papers are likely in the wake of the Commerce Commission decision to turn down a merger between Fairfax Media and NZME.

After a year of lobbying and speculation, on Wednesday the market regulator unanimously declined permission for the media companies to join forces, saying it would concentrate media ownership to an unacceptable level.

Fairfax acting managing director Andrew Boyle said the decision was disappointing and brought into stark reality the need to address what publishing model was sustainable.

“Tough decisions will have to be made in terms on ensuring that ongoing viability,” he said.

“It’s too early to say exactly what that means but we’re really looking at the Marlborough example with a great deal of interest as a pilot of how we do things a little differently. And that will give us some good feedback in the coming weeks in terms of how a model like that could be applied.”

As of May 1, Fairfax’s Marlborough Express newspaper was reduced to publishing three days a week in favour of more online news daily. Four editorial jobs were lost.

The Commerce Commission considered the possibility that newspapers would only be published once a week if it rejected Fairfax and NZME’s merger, chairman Mark Berry said.

But he said it had decided that even if all weekday newspapers folded, that would be preferable to allowing the merger. That was taking into account the power the merged company would still have, particularly over online news.

The Commission’s decision can be read here.

Yesterday Stuff: to sell or close 28 community and rural newspapers

Stuff is planning to sell or close some of its smaller community and rural papers in a move that could affect 60 jobs.

Chief executive Sinead Boucher said on Wednesday that 28 mastheads would be affected, while reiterating Stuff’s plans to grow its digital business.

The company was still working through plans for each of the titles and consultation with staff would occur over coming weeks, she said.

Greg Hywood, chief executive of Australian parent company Fairfax Media, noted that the company had warned that its New Zealand business would go into “consolidation mode” if the Commerce Commission did not approve its proposed merger with rival publisher NZME.

“We predicted this outcome. We said that ultimately there would have to be rationalisation in the industry and the best way of sustaining journalism was to allow the merger to go ahead.”

But he stopped short of blaming the sales or closures on the commission, saying it was “hypothetical” whether they would have happened anyway, had the merger gone ahead.

20 Comments

  1. Ray

     /  February 22, 2018

    When I lived rurally one or more of these arrived in my mail box daily, and Homepaddock blog tells me they still do.
    I suppose they support a few journalists but they were mostly about advertising and that is a bit like the old buggy whip & lantern union a dying way of life, or rather there are better ways of doing that now.

  2. Blazer

     /  February 22, 2018

    the slogan on the wall…is oh..so…true.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  February 22, 2018

      So, so mindless and not backed up by anything, you mean. I can’t believe that anyone in the c.21 still thinks like that.

      How are poor people being blamed for the cyclone or the Florida massacre ? Or the terrible crash that killed four people in a ‘boy race’ ? Or the other news stories in the paper at the moment ?

  3. Gezza

     /  February 22, 2018

    But [Greg Hywood, chief executive of Australian Fairfax Media] stopped short of blaming the sales or closures on the commission, saying it was “hypothetical” whether they would have happened anyway, had the merger gone ahead.

    Likelihood? It would have happened anyway.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  February 22, 2018

      Couldn’t laws and rules be made to keep the company straight and not show bias ?

  4. PartisanZ

     /  February 22, 2018

    Now come on folks … be reasonable … How are they supposed to make a healthy profit for ‘investors’ without “looking for efficiencies” … ?

    Fairfax first-half profit sinks 54pc – The Australian

    https://www.theaustralian.com.au/…/media/fairfax…profit…/b983827a4c602bd1e6aa1d0…

    Huh! I can’t afford to read it …

    http://www.fairfaxmedia.com.au/Investors/financial-results

    Huh! …

    I must be to blame for wanting some media to remain ‘free’ …?

    • Gezza

       /  February 22, 2018

      😮
      Is there no end to your perfidy, PZ? 😡

      • PartisanZ

         /  February 22, 2018

        No end Gezza … and no limits …

        Depending of course on what you mean by “perfidy”, of the 100 or so common meanings …?

        • Gezza

           /  February 22, 2018

          Are you sure you’re not a Russian? 😉

          • PartisanZ

             /  February 22, 2018

            I admire the Russians for trying, honestly, and remembering the unspeakable tyranny they lived under with the Tsarist ‘absolute monarchy’ …

            But actually, in the purest sense, I’m more American than most of the Rightie folks on here … I believe ‘individual freedom’ has to be allowed, regulated for the common interest or public good … and provided for from the public purse.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  February 22, 2018

              Have you heard of people like Lenin and Stalin, PZ ?

              The Tsars had the excuse of believing that their power was God-given, Stalin was a greedy power-made dictator whose regime left the tsarist ones nowhere when it came to cruelty and absolutism. The Romanovs were benevolent tyrants – they were stupid and naive and should have seen what was coming, but if I had to live in Russia, I’d rather live under a Tsar than than sadistic sods like Stalin and his henchmen.

              Tangent; I knew (very slightly) a very old Russian Princess whose mother was the last Tsarina’s lady-in-waiting, or one of them. The then little Princess G knew the Royal Family, of course, and had some amazing photos of them that have never been published…she would have known Rasputin, of course, but I never had the nerve to ask. Her English was still, after all those decades in England, not good. She was a tiny old woman with jet black hair. So there are two degrees between me and the last of the Romanovs – and Rasputin.

            • PartisanZ

               /  February 22, 2018

              You want to excuse the fucking Tzars!? Why? Because of two degrees of separation?

              “Benevolent tyrants” … Oh Jesus, you’ve gotta be fucken kidding me!

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicholas_II_of_Russia

              One day maybe you’ll say the same thing about SIR Rogered Douglas & Rich Hard Prebble as I say about Lenin/Trotsky & Co [not Stalin] … “at least they tried” …

              That’ll be when the rest of us are celebrating the real hero of modern NZ history, Michael Joseph Savage …

  5. Alan Wilkinson

     /  February 22, 2018

    A very dumb comment from the Daily Blog. No business happily downsizes. Internet disruption is forcing this and the CEO makes the point it may have had to happen anyway.

  6. Mefrostate

     /  February 22, 2018

    Pay for the media you consume.
    And pay for the quality media the “other side” consume.