by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
Panpa Bulletin : September 2006
10 | PANPA BULLETIN August 2006 NEWS West Australian Newspa- pers expects to have its new $200 million press and publishing lines operating from about May next year, pro- ducing real benefits that will flow in 2007-08. The May start-up was predict- ed by WAN's chief executive, Ken Steinke, as the group posted a $107.5 million underlying profit for the year ending June 30, its first operating profit to exceed $100m. Charges for staff redundancy payments and press write-downs reduced the record profit -- up 10.3 per cent from the previous year -- by $54.8 million. The new CEO believes the greater colour capacity and flex- ibility available when the $200 million upgrade of the Herdsman production facility is completed -- "one of my two biggest chal- lenges", says Steinke - will open up a range of opportunities to improve all the publications and increase revenue. While he believes the flag- ship daily, The West Australian, is a "great" newspaper, it pres- ents readers with a navigation problem because of the inserts- inside-inserts structure dictated by the existing press limitations. "The biggest change that will happen at The West Australian is going to be at Herdsman," Steinke told the paper's business writer, Cathy Bolt. "Once Herdsman is up and running, opportunities will be- come obvious to us. People will look at it and say, 'there's another way we can do real estate or em- ployment or TV guides, or what- ever'," he said. Steinke's second challenge is fixing weaknesses in WANH's on- line business. He plans to invest $1-2 million this year on The West's under- developed website, which has been outclassed by the recently revamped PerthNow site of News Limited's Sunday Times. PerthNow, according to the latest data released by Nielsen Net Ratings, logged the greatest percentage gain in the unique browser numbers of all the ma- jor News Limited sites in the year ending June. Usage soared from 58,828 a month to 136,539 -- a rise of 132 per cent. No unique browser numbers are available for The West's online operations, which lost $1 million last year. Steinke admits that de- velopment of the site, now being revamped to include a broader and updated editorial service, has been "tardy". "We need to step up our game a bit," he said in a follow-up in- terview in which he elaborated on the group's buoyant results. "It's a key thing for us because we have a real leadership position in terms of content with the largest newsroom in WA by a long way. "It's a really good opportunity for us to capitalise on our con- tent. After that, we will look at the classified sites. "We already have offerings but we can take them a lot further, to a lot more people. And then we will continue to develop into other areas like directories and search facilities. The nice thing about starting from a low base is there's a lot of upside there." Online advertising was forecast to grow to 10 per cent of the total market in Australia next year and Steinke hopes it will account for several percent of WANH's rev- enue within a couple of years. The print edition of The West would remain "the big game in town" for many years and "the tail should not wag the dog". Steinke used the interview he gave The West's business section to feed out the information that, despite an early announcement that indicated he had no plans for any big changes, there had been some "enforced" management changes, following the resigna- tion of special projects general manager John Rowsthorne. Liam Roche (a Hegarty award prize winner), who has been pro- moted to the new role of general manager of group operations and information technology, will oversee the Herdsman plant up- grade. The upgrade is proceeding well and in line with projections. Meanwhile, WANH continues to benefit from the State's buoy- ant economy. Advertising in the first four weeks of the new financial year was up 7.4 per cent, against the corresponding four weeks of the previous year. "It's been a great start and a lot of that is in local display advertis- ing," said Steinke. National dis- play had not improved. "Like everybody else we are not going to be immune from whatever effects flow through from higher interest rates. But if you are anywhere in Australia, you would want to be in WA. The economy continues to hum along. We're in the right place." The group had just put through an advertising rate increase that averaged 3.5 per cent and anoth- er increase was being considered in the $1.10 weekday cover price. During the 05-06 financial year, total gross advertising revenue from The West Australian, which accounts for 80 per cent of group earnings, rose 3.9 per cent on the back of a 15.7 per cent jump in employment ads and 4.7 per cent in local display. Real estate and new homes advertising fell by 5.5 and 10.3 per cent respectively. Because of the state's boom conditions, real estate is selling so quickly that it takes only one ad to achieve a sale and there are fewer proper- ties available to rent. Builders have so much work they have reduced and, in some instances, stopped running ads. WANH announced the retire- ment on November of chairman Warwick Kent on November 1. He will be replaced by Peter Mansell. Pressing ahead in WA Upgrading its press and publishing lines is expected to bring in a bigger revenue for the fast growing The West Australian writes Jack Beverley
November December 2006