Antony Catalano’s ACM is ‘open for business’ with the acquisition of the Bendigo Weekly

In his first move since declaring his intent to grow the Australian Community Media (ACM) business, Antony Catalano has said the publisher is ‘open for business’ with the acquisition of the Bendigo Weekly.

The free weekly newspaper will merge with the ACM’s paid daily title, the Bendigo Advertiser.

It was revealed Catalano was buying ACM in April

ACM’s stable of 14 daily newspapers and more than 160 news brands will be “strengthen[ed]” by the acquisition, according to Catalano.

“We’ve acted quickly and decisively because we know that Bendigo’s two most trusted sources of local news and advertising will be much stronger together,” he said.

“We’re proud to be taking a positive approach to the challenges in regional media, and we’ll continue to lead the way with innovative solutions like this.”

Catalano added that the acquisition is a “compelling opportunity to secure a sustainable future” for quality regional news, including in Bendigo, and a signal of how “the spirit of collaboration” that boosts regional media.

“The result will be a stronger offering for readers, advertisers will have access to the very best platform to promote their goods and services and we build a more sustainable business to be able to continue serving the community,” Catalano said.

“It’s an example of the spirit of collaboration that regional media needs so that we are better positioned to invest and grow even stronger.”

The deal involves Bendigo Weekly being retained as a dedicated liftout within the Bendigo Advertiser’s Saturday edition. Bendigo Weekly’s real estate liftout will be combined with the Advertiser’s Domain weekend homes guide and available in the Friday and Saturday editions of the paper.

The updated Domain liftout will also be available for free online, with print copies available at selected points across Bendigo. The new print products will be launched next month.

“At the completion of the merger, the Bendigo Advertiser, Bendigo Weekly and the combined Domain real estate guide will be well-placed to serve the needs of Bendigo into the future,” ACM CEO Allen Williams said.

“Print and digital audiences can expect more great reading at the weekend with the Bendigo Weekly’s emphasis on essential community news, plus enhanced coverage of the region’s real estate market in Domain.”

Consultation with staff and customers, and planning for the integration of the two teams and products, is underway. The free print edition of the Bendigo Weekly will be discontinued, but available online.

Bendigo Weekly’s chairperson Robert Ketterer thanked the newspaper’s staff and advertisers, adding: “We’re proud of the efforts of the Weekly team and everything we have been able to achieve for our customers, readers, shareholders and the broader community over the past 22 years, and we’re confident that success will continue.”

Catalano and Thorney Investment Group bought ACM, Fairfax’s former regional publishing division, from Nine on 1 July, after the acquisition was announced in April. ACM’s mastheads include The Canberra Times, Newcastle Herald, The Border Mail, The Examiner in Launceston, The Courier in Ballarat and The Standard in Warrnambool.


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