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AAP to ‘pause activity on closure’ and postpone redundancies as it enters talks with potential buyers

Two weeks after announcing its June closure, it appears the Australian Associated Press (AAP) may have been thrown a lifeline, with CEO Bruce Davidson saying several approaches have been received for acquisition of the whole company.

However, Davidson was cautious, warning nothing may come of the discussions and that it was early days for a final decision.

The AAP may be saved by a potential buyout

The AAP reports multiple parties have shown interest in buying the entire AAP operation, including its staff of 180 and its divisions – Pagemasters, Medianet and Mediaverse. Davidson addressed staff today, saying the viability of the offers were not yet confirmed.

“I must stress that no decision can be made on the viability of these approaches until meaningful talks take place,” said Davidson.

“We all should be cautious: nothing may come of these discussions.”

AAP was unable to comment on the buyers due to confidentiality commitments, but the initial consultation is expected to take a fortnight.

Subscribers to the service were contacted by editor in chief Tony Gillies today, who promised the service would not be impacted by the discussions.

Editorial staff had been given finishing dates of March 27 and June 26 and assurances of full redundancy entitlements. Those processes have now been placed on hold.

AAP is owned by Nine, News Corp Australia, The West Australian and Australian Community Media (ACM).

The potential of a buyout comes as the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) has issued a plea to the AAP board members to keep the news service open until after the coronavirus outbreak has ceased.

In a letter issued to Davidson, MEAA chief executive Paul Murphy said a decision to keep the service open until the end of the calendar year would be in the national interest.

“At a time when Australians are facing the most significant health challenge since the 1918 H1N1 influenza pandemic, the AAP newswire service is more critical than at any time since the end of the second world war,” read the note.

“According, MEAA urges the shareholders to reconsider the decision to close the newswire service and to keep the newswire service open right through the calendar year 2020.”

Upon announcing the closure earlier this month, Gillies released a statement to champion the importance of the AAP’s service.

“We have had a place like no other in journalism. We exist for the public’s interest and I now fear for the void left by the absence of AAP’s strong, well-considered voice,” Gillies said.

Many have come out in support of the business, with the ABC, SBS and members of parliament calling for its continuation and for support to ensure its viability in the future.

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