Australian Newsagency Blog

A blog on issues affecting Australia's newsagents, media and small business generally.

Reuters: Rupert Murdoch’s big investment headache: Australia

Mark Fletcher
July 17th, 2020 · 3 Comments

This report by Byron KayeRupert Murdoch’s big investment headache: Australia, which dropped at Reuters yesterday makes for a fascinating read.

SYDNEY (Reuters) – The birthplace of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, News Corp’s (NWSA.O) Australian business, is shaping up as a trouble spot for the global firm, following a billion dollar writedown and a move to stop printing more than 100 regional newspapers.

People interested in print media in Australia should find the article interesting regardless of your views of the Murdoch controlled company. The report has been widely shared on Twitter since its release yesterday. Here are some of the tweets where a link to the article was shared:

  • News Australia dinosaur drag on whole company…Reuters.
  • analysis of why the short sellers are moving in on the Murdoch empire. #auspol
  • Newscorp the most shorted stock in Aust says Reuters. “Rupert Murdoch‘s big investment headache: Australia”
  • “I’ve had a view it’s worth nothing for a long time.” Death rattle.

Yesterday, Crikey published a report by Christopher Warren on the closure by News Corp of a printing plant in Queensland. This, too, is worth a read.

As News Corp closes down more printing presses, it threatens to lock out new players.

Australia’s press took a big step this week in its decades-long journey from venerable manufacturing process to nostalgic metaphor with the accelerated closure of those production plants where newspapers are — or were — printed.

The resulting consolidation will see News Corp making a further change, reducing the size of its metropolitan papers to the shorter size technically-known as the “bastard measure”, beginning with The Courier-Mail.

The Yandina press will use a single press to print the company’s remaining south-east Queensland papers — The Courier-Mail and Sunday Mail, the Gold Coast Bulletin and the Toowoomba Chronicle. It will also print local copies of The Australian, The Daily Telegraph and Nine’s The Australian Financial Review.

There’s form here that will concern independent publishers. When Horton Media, Queensland’s last independent printer, closed two years ago, some small independent papers had to shift printing to Sydney and truck their copies to the state due to local capacity constraints. Fairfax’s print plant at Ormiston (and in NSW’s Hunter), closed the same year as part of a printing and distribution agreement with News Corp.

This is all part of the disruption. newsagents, as we have seen in recent weeks, will get caught in the changes, left without papers, left dealing with angry customers. Communication from News Corp has been and continues to be appalling. It is a selfish company with a history of bullying small business newsagents. Top be fair though, plenty of newsagents have willingly made themselves available for this.

From the perspective democracy, we have to hope that there are more genuinely independent news outlets and that they have more journalists asking tough questions of politicians from all sides. The current concentration of news outlets in Australia is unhealthy for democracy. You only have to look at the biased Daily Telegraph.


Category: Ethics · Media disruption · Newspapers · Social responsibility

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Colin // Jul 17, 2020 at 10:04 AM

    That Australian arm of newscorp publishing is bust is well documented. The Australian operation has for years been masked by cash generation by Foxtel which itself is under enormous pressure and haemorrhaging market share. The losses in aus publishing can no longer be supported.

    The short sellers and vultures are circling.


  • 2 Jonathan Wilson // Jul 17, 2020 at 6:42 PM

    Its important to remember that the Australian operations of News (including the Australian, the Courier-Mail, the Telegraph, the Herald-Sun, the Advertiser and the others) have been as much about political power and influence as it has been about earning money.

    Murdoch has used his papers for decades (including the all-out-war on the ALP and especially the NBN in 2013) to try and get politicians in Canberra that will be favorable to Murdoch and his big business mates and their interests…


  • 3 Peter // Jul 17, 2020 at 8:17 PM

    What is Lord Rupert’s Fox about in the Good Old USA, the role model for Sky and News.


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