Crikey has today published hitherto unknown information about the performance of the News Corp. Australian newspaper business. The numbers are sobering for a publishing business that invests considerably in criticising rival Fairfax for poor performance:
Crikey can reveal that, amid a forest of negative brackets, revenue from News Corp’s Australian newspapers fell 14% to $1.9 billion in 2012-13, with circulation revenue dropping 5% and advertising revenue falling 18%, while operating income fell 67% to $94 million.
Foxtel and realestate.com.au are key the Australian business, apparently effectively propping up loss-making print businesses.
The profit drop in newspapers was only partly offset by growth in other operations like REA Group and Fox Sports, with total operating income falling 38% to $221 million. After income from investments including Foxtel, the group recorded a total profit before interest or tax of $367 million, down 28%.
I expect there will be a backlash against Crikey from News about this reporting.
Newsagents see the financial pressures News must be under through subscription deals and deals with supermarkets where newspapers are being bundled for free with supermarket spends above a set figure.