With major restructures announced by News Limited and Fairfax Media, The PANPA Bulletin asked the other two major newspaper publishers for their thoughts on the new financial year.
THE turbulence has been far-reaching.
The upheaval at both News Limited and Fairfax involving editorial and production staff suggests changes at Australia’s other two publishers are imminent.
Although APN News & Media chief executive Brett Chenoweth expects the new financial year to be one of consolidation, he will remain focused on news content for its digital strategy, while pursuing revenue from other businesses.
Mr Chenoweth believes the publishing arm of his business can rebuild from a difficult 2011, in which print revenues struggled as a result of natural disasters in Queensland and Christchurch in New Zealand.
He would not disclose specific plans, but indicated an overhaul of its kiwi publishing operations was on the cards.
“We are conducting a major strategic review of our assets in New Zealand and are looking at the various options available to maximise profitability and value for shareholders,” he told The Bulletin.
“This market requires us to maintain strong focus on cost and we are competing hard for every available dollar in the market.
“At the same time, we are exploring ways to rejuvenate our products to reposition them and meet advertiser and consumer requirements in an evolving media market.
“This is particularly true for our publishing businesses,” he continued.
“We are integrating digital into everything we do.”
Similarly, Seven West Media, the publisher of The West Australian, aims to contain costs and focus on circulation management, while aiming to increase market share and keeping yields intact.
“In print or digital, newsmedia companies with focus on timeliness, accuracy and quality journalism continue to stand out in a crowded and difficult-to-navigate news market”
SWM’s West Australian chief executive Chris Wharton said the company’s printed products were extremely strong and very profitable.
He also ruled out making a major shift to a digital-first strategy.
“We are developing our digital assets, but not at the expense of printed products,” he told The Bulletin.
“We have actively developed other revenue streams within the group over the past few years that are making a positive contribution to profit.”
Mr Chenoweth said there was no denying the media industry as a whole – and newspapers in particular – were undergoing tremendous change to flourish in a digital context in a market with strong headwinds.
And the time to act is now.
“For me, the biggest challenge is building momentum to create change,” he said.
“That includes sufficient earnings to redesign our businesses or invest in new ones, developing a culture that thrives on change and ensuring our investors are confident in our strategic approach.”
Unlike some publishers that are making changes to their content,
APN intends to remain focused on news.
“In print or digital, newsmedia companies with focus on timeliness, accuracy and quality journalism continue to stand out in a crowded and difficult-to-navigate news market,”
Mr Chenoweth said.
“However, the business model supporting news is changing.
“We are pursuing opportunities to connect our existing media assets with high-growth digital transaction businesses.
APN has already begun to diversify.
It has purchased online shopping start-up brandsExclusive for A$30 million, and it intends to strengthen its outdoor advertising sector.
“Media and advertising is changing and we are evolving our models to fit,” Mr Chenoweth said.
“We believe there is tremendous value to be unlocked in the global shift towards eCommerce, which will be a core part of digital media landscape in the future.”
He said advertising markets remain tough in Australia and New Zealand, but APN expected a number of assets to perform well, particularly its outdoor and Australian radio businesses.
“Both are continuing to build momentum in ratings and revenue share,” he said.
“We have a strong focus on increasing our digital capabilities and assets which we expect to accelerate in revenue and earnings contribution.”