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Panpa Bulletin : September 2006
36 | PANPA BULLETIN September 2006 S CIRCULATION Rivals keep battling it out One of the interesting results of the lat- est Nielsen Media Research national findings for the six months end- ing June, 2006 is the first readership figure of 30,000 (all people 10 years plus) for the retitled and revamped The Independent Financial Review. Fairfax New Zealand bought what was then The Independent in February and sub- sequently began a revamp of the journal. Nielsen Media Research's last readership figures for The Independent was for the year ending December 2000, when reader- ship was 23,000. The latest Nielsen results treat The Independent Financial Review as a new publication and used six months of data. This means no year-on-year compar- ison is possible. Rival business newspaper, the National Business Review, shows a readership of 96,000 for the year ending June, 2006. This was up 4.4 per cent from the 92,000 readership (all people 10 years plus), a year earlier. Asia-Paci c Circulation Figures Circ to Circ to Change 30/06/06 30/06/05 as % FIJI Fiji Times (M-F) 23,760 23,304 +1.92 Fiji Times (Sat) 42,655 39,931 +6.39 Sunday Times 21,967 20,399 +7.14 INDONESIA Warta Kota 105,840 N/a ---- Kompas Daily (daily) 453,264 467,794 -3.21 PNG National (M-F) 23,843 21,300 +10.67 PNG Post-Courier (M-F) 26,824 26,117 +2.64 While newspaper advertising was at an all-time high, that may be a ected by rising costs and poor seasonal conditions in regionals Despite high fuel prices and weak economic conditions in NSW, Rural Press, which posted a 12.2 per cent jump in annual profit to a record $113.4 mil- lion, expects further growth this year. Some of that growth should come from a new internet portal, lifeislo- cal.com.au, which Rural is launching after spending about $2 million in develop- ment costs. The group, the largest provider of regional and ag- ricultural news in Australia, publisher of The Canberra Times and a major contract printer, said trading in the first eight weeks (of 2006- 07) is marginally ahead of last year. Chief executive Brian McCarthy warned, how- ever, that while newspaper advertising was at an all- time high, that could be affected by rising costs and poor seasonal conditions in regional areas. Group revenue rose by three per cent to $588.4 mil- lion in the year to June 30, while earnings before inter- est (EBIYT) rose 10.7 per cent to $174.4 million. Chairman John B. Fairfax said earnings growth high- lighted the strength of its diverse businesses, which had been generated without the benefit of major acqui- sitions and absorbing costs associated with significant press upgrades. Underlying Australian ag- ricultural publishing reve- nues grew by more than five per cent on a like-for-like 52- week trading period. New Zealand Agricultural pub- lishing performed strongly, benefiting from an expand- ed market offering with the Central Districts Field Days. The company's flagship rural newspaper, Straight Furrow, was confirmed as having NZ's largest rural readership. The revenue gains were derived from improved yield from colour advertis- ing and volume gains with special publications, prop- erty and livestock advertis- ing, while overall cost in- creases were contained to the inflation rate. Earnings had improved by 2.6 per cent after absorbing significant depreciation and meeting costs from the ca- pacity upgrades at Ballarat, Canberra, Launceston, North Richmond and Port Macquarie sites late in the prior years, the company said. McCarthy said the group's new internet portal would leverage the local content of its papers, plus their display and classified advertising. "It will be a one-stop shop for regional communities and will have directories and local content from all our markets." Job and car adver- tising would also be carried. "Our vision is to become the number one regional online website in Australia." Questioned on the ABC's Lateline Business program if it was time for Rural to be buying another business, McCarthy said Rural was con- stantly focused on growing. "There were a couple of acquisition opportuni- ties in 2006 that we bid on and we didn't run first. That was a little disappointing," McCarthy said. "It's also a positive be- cause it shows that our ap- proach to acquisitions is disciplined, and if it doesn't meet the criteria we have in place, then the acquisition doesn't proceed. "Top of our (acquisition) list would be what we do best -- publishing newspa- pers. That would always be our number one priority." Asked about being a poten- tial bidder for Fairfax, pub- lisher of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, and "how much was in the kitty", McCarthy said there were several issues to consider as well as just the money. "We need to look at the culture of the two groups", he said. "I think what's in the kitty is really a matter of what's the opportunity. We have in- terest cover today of around fifteen times earnings, which is quite high. "Our balance sheet is extremely strong, capable of absorbing quite large acquisitions. "In simple terms, if an acquisition was available today around half a billion dollars, I think that would be fundable if it had the right earnings without too much change to our bal- ance sheet." Rural pro ts support expansion plans Brian McCarthy, managing director and chief executive of Rural Press Limited Fairfax Photos
November December 2006