Australian Newsagency Blog

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

News Corp. to reduce newspaper distribution in regional Queensland

Mark Fletcher
March 29th, 2021 · 3 Comments

The ABC has just published this story about a decision by News Corp. to scale back print newspaper distribution in regional Queensland:

News Corp Australia to stop distributing newspapers to much of regional Queensland

News Corp Australia has notified a number of newsagents across regional Queensland that it will stop delivering its titles to them from late September, due to the “very high cost” of distribution.

News Corp wrote to select newsagents last Thursday, informing them it would no longer provide physical copies of eight mastheads, including The Courier-Mail, The Australian and The Daily Telegraph, after September 26.

The ABC understands distribution will cease to towns further west than Charters Towers in the north, Emerald in central Queensland and in some parts of the state’s south-west.

The move leaves a large swathe of Queenslanders without access to a daily newspaper covering state, national and international affairs.

In the letter seen by the ABC, News Corp Australia said its decision was based on “the very high cost to distribute to your region, in the context of how people access their news today, [which] makes its continuation unsustainable”.

News Corp. issued this statement to the ABC:

We are following our audience — and our advertisers — to where they consume news and information, allowing our news coverage to be more immediate and focused on our communities. While our changes in western Queensland represent about 1 per cent of state newspaper sales, the true value of a newspaper is in the news, not the paper it’s printed on.

Read the whole ABC story: as it goes into detail and quotes several newsagents.

Here’s the thing … print in not an efficient medium for the distribution of news and opinion. Sales of newspapers have been underline for close to 20 years. The moves being made by News Corp. in Queensland will not be the only such moves.

As I have written here over the years, the only issue to be resolved about the retreat and ultimate closure of print newspapers is the timing.

Newsagents need to run their businesses so as to not rely on newspapers or any legacy products. Hopefully, the story this morning from the ABC encourages more newsagents to pivot.

Now, as to News Corp. itself, it has not dealt with and is not dealing with these decisions in an inclusive way. It is being selfish and secretive. but, hey, that’s News Corp for you. I say selfish and secretive because company representatives tell newsagents they are important, that they support them, that they need them. Unfortunately, too many newsagents and some who support newsagents drink and that kool-aid and fall into line with the News Corp. spin.

News Corp. should be transparent with newsagents about its timeline. Yes, I am sure it has a timeline that documents the trigger points for withdrawing distributions like that covered in the ABC story this morning and even bigger moves like when it will close capital city dailies. I get why it is not transparent …/ but I wish it was as, sadly, there are newsagents who believe News Corp. more than they believe their own sales data.

I support newspapers in newsagencies, but only on terms that are viable for newsagents. By that I mean being frugal in space and labour allocation while at the same time aggressively attracting new shoppers for new product categories that offer growth opportunities into the future.

Anyone involved in print newspaper production, distribution and sale is involved in an activity that will end … soon. Everything being done needs to be done on the basis of pursuing a soft landing. That is what News Corp. is doing with these decisions. If I was a News Corp. shareholder;der I’d be supporting their moves.

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Category: Media disruption · Newsagency challenges · Newsagency management · newsagency of the future · Newspapers · Social responsibility

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Graeme Day // Mar 29, 2021 at 9:21 AM

    This storywill continue as it started a long long time ago. Newspapers in the printed fashion have been in decline for over 65 years. it started with Television, slowy, with the afternoon papers then suddenly in ’87 the merging of Afternoon Daliy Mirror in NSW with the morning Daily Telegraph until finally accepted morning only Daily Telegraph.
    It’s sad for all that love to turn the page.For those that have delivered the newsaper, through all adverseries from weather, late papers, disgrunted consumers wrapping machine breakdowns, motor veleicle breakdowns and human illiness as with the adage re the Mail of yesteryear. We “must go through” and did.
    Mark points out -it’s over and we all know this is true. It’s only a matter of time.
    For years now when we list a newsagency for sale that has a Distribution contract in place, we separate the figures as if they are two seperate businesses. For awhile we could sell them combined as one. This is almost impossible today. Sure some will take on the Distribution depending on the size of the run and if it’s pertaining to that business only. Expecting Goodwill for this, well ask any newsagent in Sydney when News took the home Delivery back. Lots of tongue clicking sympathy well almost but no payment.
    Preparing for the futures as Mark repeats and repeats is absolutely essential and it has to be done now.
    Why not use the customer base and income you get now from Distribution to convert this community into store traffic by offering items that suit your demographics.
    Like Mark, I am frustrated in suggesting this for years, we have as Mark does, offer alternatives, restucturing as well.
    Mark made reference to data deleted from the software P.O.S. when take over occurs.
    This data is crucial for all agents in assessing where they are at from hourly takings -take the current situation of no early morning newsapers -those stores have no reason to openn at 5-6 or even 7 am. They can reassure themselves of this by checking the receipts per half hour every day to select new opening hours. This is only one of the tools to use for new business models.
    Move on before you have to move out should be out motto.
    Don’t be like the Milk Bars of the 50’s -60’s for they no longer exist. Be the next model the Cafes of the future.

    4 likes

  • 2 Brendan Mason // Mar 29, 2021 at 9:29 AM

    Apart from the fact that selling newspapers made us “an essential retailer” during the COVID lock downs in Victoria last year and kept our doors open, newspapers for us have passed the point of being of value to the business. We will continue to stock purely out of fear of further lock downs of retail over the next 12 months.

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  • 3 Graeme Day // Mar 29, 2021 at 10:17 AM

    Brendan, I agree I would stock them until they force the issue by withdrawing them No point in the newsagent conyaganising their customers when it’s News Corps call.
    Another point is the Essential Services tag did not happen last year The usage was political for newsagents are legislated as an Essential Service. Well documented.
    It could ofcourse change however I doubt it a politicians don’t usually repeal laws especially those that a sensitive and as well newspapers could be around for some time to come in some hi density areas in particular.

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