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Panpa Bulletin : August September 2007
PANPA Bulletin August-September 2007 25 state of the industry address Viewers have increasingly already seen that story and they're increasingly saving time by not having to watch the TV news. The video revolution is like the revolution that's driving newspaper content onto mil- lions and millions of mobile phones in bite size stories, but video is potentially much more lucrative to publishers. Newspaper publishers have emerged with a pivotal role in being able to deliver content to new media platforms. A practical challenge before us is how to re-skill the most powerful newsrooms in the land into true multi-media leaders while maintaining their lead in quality. Print Success In the year under review, Australian newspapers survived the transition to new circulation audit rules and more frequent reporting periods without the world crum- bling. The new rules reveal to advertisers how many papers are sold to airlines, hotels, schools, universities and event promot- ers and because of the changes -- which see some categories no longer officially recognised -- newspapers are not permitted to directly compare with previous results generated under the old rules. Many publishers took advantage of this so-called "audit amnesty" to clear out their lowest yielding sales to find a more sustain- able base from which to resume hostilities in 2008. Nevertheless, in aggregate, just over 21 mil- lion daily or Sunday newspapers were sold each week in the three months to March 31 this year, only 1.5 per cent off the previ- ous total and despite the circulation base readjustments. Importantly, most of the quality titles in this region held up or grew slightly. The rules have been well received by advertisers and publishers alike. The reforms, however, still leave electronic versions of the newspapers, the e-editions sold by subscription, out in the pre-digital wilderness. This must be fixed. Newspaper print readership was rela- tively steady despite the year's explosion in online readership results. Just over 80 per cent of Australians 14 and over read a paper each week in the year to March ... that's just 0.9 of a percentage point off the previous period and despite a marked drop-off in the number of papers doing above-line-promotions, which is known to influence readership survey responses. Circulation of New Zealand dailies and weeklies also held up well. More than 4.5 million daily and weekly papers were sold each week in the year to last March, a very slight rise on the previous year. Readership of New Zealand newspapers was an even better story. While new, more frequent quarterly surveys have just been introduced and can't yet be compared, the year to December showed good growth. More than 1.6 million New Zealanders, exactly half the population over the age of 15, read a paper every typical day. That's up 23,000 people year-on-year pushed by growth in the metro dailies. Challenges With Advertising In the race to win advertising dollars, publishers in both countries put in a solid performance. In Australia, newspapers held onto every cent to retain $3.8 billion of ads, keeping newspapers in top spot, a rarity in comparable countries where TV would normally come up trumps. But the devil is in the growth trends. Papers grew 0.1 per cent but the overall mar- ket grew 3 per cent as the internet jumped 61.5 per cent. As classified revenues continue to fall out of newspapers, the industry simply must work harder to win replacement revenues -- from national advertising where we under- perform and also from retail advertising. This is the enormous challenge which has brought all Australian publishers together to form The Newspaper Works to create an unprecedented assault on behalf of the medium. In New Zealand, newspapers managed the largest growth of any medium in ad share in the 12 months to December. Five per cent of growth lifted market share to 20 per cent as the market shrank overall. Review Of The Stables The potted summary of significant corporate activity in the past year is domi- nated by two events: The relaxing of media ownership restrictions on this side of the Tasman and the investment surge towards multimedia. Companies in this part of the world are eagerly balancing investment for the future along with savings and efficiency measures. Doing both at the same time is a big psycho- logical breakthrough and a sign of the indus- try's confidence rather than desperation. APN continues to be the most broadly based media company of any PANPA mem- ber as a major radio, outdoor and regional print player in Australia and New Zealand. It ran hard toward a private equity buyout this year, which ultimately did not get approved by shareholders. The operations side continues to push the boundaries, pursuing organic growth of on- line by exploiting and reorganising its print media content. It's investing strongly in print too; completing the commissioning of new two print centres at Yandina and Bundaberg, new publishing systems across Australia and a new centralised ad service centre in Brisbane and also centralised call centres. Continuing its tradition of innovating around costs, it is in the throes of switching on the new Auckland editorial centre for outsourcing subediting of the New Zealand Herald and other New Zealand publications. APN bought community papers and spe- cialist titles throughout Queensland, com- pleted the full acquisition of the Toowoomba Chronicle daily, and it also bought the Stratford Press on the north island. West Australian Newspapers Ltd had a boom year to remember. 'The West' pushed ahead with its online plans and is close to completing a major rebuild of its print centre. The rebuild will be followed by a major relaunch of the flagship weekend edition of The West Australian. Following on from News Corp's purchase of MySpace the year before, it has launched massive makeovers of all its news web- sites, it quadrupled the size of its maga- zine division, added the very rich Courier community titles in Sydney, expanded the mX commuter newspaper model into Queensland, is completing a half-billion dollar plant expansion, it relaunched many of its key print assets and it has just put its money where Rupert Murdoch's mouth is by successfully bidding for Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal. Who could have foreseen that this Melbourne born and bred chap, despite several near-death corporate experiences, would go on to own not only 62 per cent of Australia's daily and Sunday newspapers, but The Times of London, The Sunday Times, The New York Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Fox TV Network, 20th Century Fox, BSkyB, StarTV in Asia and MySpace, to name some of the highlights. Rupert Murdoch also dabbled in the