ACM CEO Allen Williams resigns after 30 years with company

Chief executive and managing director of Australian Community Media (ACM), Allen Williams, has resigned after more than 30 years with the company, and will finish up on 18 December, Mumbrella can reveal.

In a note to staff, seen by Mumbrella, chair Antony Catalano said he is “disappointed” about Williams’ impending departure, but paid tribute to the “outstanding contribution he has made to the business throughout its evolution – from before the Rural Press and Fairfax Media merger all the way through to ACM’s first 18 months as a privately owned and proudly independent media company”.


“Allen’s experience across the business and his extensive industry knowledge has been a critical factor in helping steer us through the past year, which has presented some of the most challenging financial conditions ever faced by the Australian media sector,” Catalano, who bought the papers last year from Nine, said.

Earlier this year, ACM suspended non-daily newspapers and stood down hundreds of employees in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and has since closed three printing sites.

“I have had the pleasure of working with Allen over many of those 30 years [he has been with the company] and he will always have my gratitude for his decision to stay on after Alex Waislitz and I acquired ACM in July 2019,” the former Domain CEO continued.

“On behalf of Alex, ACM’s executive leadership team and everyone across the ACM business, I would like to sincerely thank Allen for his generous contributions as a leader, mentor and colleague.”

Williams’ almost 40-year career in media has spanned senior roles in Australia, New Zealand and the US. He joined Rural Press in 1990 after stints at News Limited, Australian Consolidated Press, and The Asher Joel Media Group, and took charge of its national sales operation.

From there, he was elevated to general manager of the Victorian operations and held that role until 1993, when he moved to the US to become president of Rural Press USA.

In 1996, he returned to Australia and joined Rural Press’ senior management team, overseeing the agricultural business units, digital investments across Australia, New Zealand, and the US, regional operations, and joint ventures.

Rural Press merged with Fairfax in 2007, before Fairfax was bought by Nine in 2018, and Catalano acquired ACM the following year. Across that period, Williams performed roles including CEO and publisher of Fairfax Regional and Community Newspapers, CEO of Fairfax Media New Zealand, managing director of Australian Publishing Media, and managing director and CEO of ACM.

The search for Williams’ replacement is beginning, Catalano confirmed.

ACM has been very active in recent weeks, announcing a $100m joint venture with, signing a printing and distribution deal with IVE Group, launching new publications in Sydney’s Northern Beaches and the NSW Northern Rivers, being part of a regional media campaign fronted by Ray Martin and pushing for the reform of media ownership laws, and hiring a strategy director in Victoria.

“When Alex Waislitz and I bought ACM, we came with a commitment to invest and grow. COVID hasn’t made things easy but we’ve worked hard with the executive team and we’re now seeing the plan come together as we look to evolve into a digitally-led media business with many strings to our bow,” Catalano said when the JV was announced.

“Our push more aggressively into the property space and in particular into digital solutions provides a broader and more sustainable revenue base, which will enable us to continue to grow and invest in not only the communities we operate in, but we’ll be doing our bit to keep journalism funded and alive in Australia.”


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.