Australian editor-in-chief Mitchell: AFR boss Gill is wrong about our finances

The Australian’s editor-in-chief Chris Mitchell has swung back at claims by Financial Review boss Michael Gill that the national broadsheet is losing $70m a year.

Gill made the statement in a video interview when he was asked by Mumbrella editor Tim Burrowes about rumours that his job had been offered to a member of staff on The Australian – understood to be deputy CEO Brett Clegg.

Gill responded by saying: “It seems to me that kind of proposition is pretty interesting because the person they are talking about appears to have taken a number two job running The Australian which loses $70 million a year, rather than take, on his account, a job with a business that’s pretty healthy.’’

But this morning Mitchell has issued a statement to the media diary of his newspaper saying: “The Australian has never made a double figures loss and has been profitable for most of the past 25 years. This is an achievement given it has three times the number of journalists as the AFR, large bureaus around the country and the world and is not a specialist niche publication as is the AFR.

“What Mr Gill conveniently forgets is the enormous contribution of The Weekend Australian to our bottom line. The Weekend Australian sells 300,000 copies and is packed with display classified recruitment ads.

“It contributes between $75 million and $85 million to annual revenue and is unmatched by any edition of the AFR, especially it’s ad-free Saturday edition. I suggest… you have a good hard look at the current edition of BRW and ask Mr Gill why there is only one paid ad in it.’’

The Australian is owned by News Ltd, while the AFR is part of Fairfax Media.

A spokesman for News Ltd told Mumbrella that Gill’s claim was “ludicrous”, adding: “The Australian makes a positive contribution to News Limited’s profits.”


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