ACM confirms closure of three print centres, resulting in undisclosed number of redundancies

Australian Community Media (ACM) has announced it will close three of the four print sites it flagged its intention to shutter earlier this month.

The decision involves a number of redundancies – ACM would not disclose how many – and an agreement with competitor News Corp, which also recently announced the closure of a print centre, allowing the companies to use each other’s printing networks.

ACM’s Canberra and Murray Bridge sites will close on 28 August, and Ballarat’s closure is effective from 2 October. The Antony Catalano-fronted media company is still considering the Albury-Wodonga print site, and said it has not made a final decision as to its fate. A date for a decision on the Albury-Wodonga site is undetermined, the business told Mumbrella.

The business’ printing capacity has long outweighed demand, it said, even before COVID-19 resulted in media companies straining against the financial ramifications of evaporating ad revenue.

“As a result we have determined that the overheads of running expensive manufacturing operations are an unsustainable drain on our business and that there are alternatives available to us which provide better commercial outcomes while allowing us to focus on our core publishing business,” ACM said in a statement.

“We are not stepping away from publishing printed copies of our newspapers – to the contrary, the printed newspaper will still play a significant role in the future of ACM. We have made the decision that ACM does not need to own print facilities to achieve this objective.”

In fact, ACM proposed, closing the sites and entering into the News Corp agreement would benefit companies across the industry.

“The high valued mastheads of ACM, News Corp and Nine Entertainment Group will all benefit from the rationalisation of printing centres that will result in cost savings across printing and distribution,” it said.

ACM said the agreement with News Corp would benefit the industry

ACM would not comment on the number of redundancies involved, but said “loss of jobs at some of our print centres has been a difficult decision and not one that we have taken lightly”.

“We would like to acknowledge the efforts, over many years, by the dedicated individuals who have manned the presses at these print centres and ensured our valued newspapers have been produced to the highest standards and delivered to communities around the country,” it added.

“We wish them well in their future endeavours.”

Two of the sites – Canberra and Murray Bridge – were closed temporarily in April, when ACM suspended more than 150 non-daily titles and stood down employees working at both those newspapers and the printing facilities. Some of those staff recently returned to work, after a public petition organised by the journalists’ union, the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance, gained more than 5,000 signatures and ACM’s union delegates sent a letter to management.

Mumbrella also understands ACM contacted a number of employees it incorrectly assumed were eligible for the government’s Job Keeper program, asking for the “overpayments” to be repaid. The union has written to ACM asking it to cease attempts to recoup these amounts.

Last week, the business expanded its relationship with property portal Realestateview, involving advertising packages.


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