Greg Hywood: Feud between News Corp and Fairfax is doing ‘a lot of damage’ to industry

APN News and Media's Ciaran Davis, Clarke, Seven West Media's Chris Warton, Newspaper Work's Michael Miller and Hywood

(l-r) APN’s Ciaran Davis, News Corp’s Clarke, The West Australian’s Chris Warton, Newspaper Work’s Michael Miller and Fairfax’s Greg Hywood

Fairfax Media CEO Greg Hywood has taken a shot at rivals News Corp over the feud which has been simmering between the publishers, saying the newspaper industry is doing itself “a lot of damage” with the constant backbiting.

Speaking on the CEO panel at the Future Forum today Hywood cited the example of “a recent defamation case”, understood to be the case brought against Fairfax by Treasurer Joe Hockey, saying “the other publishers pile in and support the person who’s sued us.”

Following remarks from recently installed APN News & Media CEO Ciaran Davis on the need for the industry to work together earlier in the discussion Hywood added: “Taking up the point about working together, we cause ourselves a lot of damage by emphasising each others’ reductions in circulation, a lot of damage. We got ourselves past that.

“Now we’re starting to attack each other on each other’s relative quality because if there is a story that one publisher gets the other publisher says ‘it’s not a story’ and tries to undermine the credibility of that story.

“There’s also a level of mutual respect. Look at defamation law, we all have a common interest in defamation law, but now if someone sues us, and there’s been a high profile case recently, the other publishers pile in and support the person who’s sued us. What’s all that about?

“We’ve just got to be sensible and practical here, it’s all very well to say lets work together but we’ve actually got to get together and work it out.”

Clarke speaking on the CEO panel at today's Future Forum event

Clarke speaking on the CEO panel at today’s Future Forum event

Speaking to Mumbrella on the sidelines of the event News Corp Australia CEO Julian Clarke shot back at Hywood, saying: “That was the pot calling the kettle black.”

“I think generally speaking a criticism can be made,” he said when asked if it is fair game for publisher’s to attack their rivals in the ways highlighted by Hywood.

“It happens in the supermarket world, in the television world. When you get fierce competitors they do tend to be a little aggressive. There’s degrees of it.”

Clarke is stepping down from his role of News Corp CEO at the end of the year and will be replaced by COO Peter Tonagh.

When asked on the legacy he leaves behind Clarke quipped “Not much.”

“It’s been a terrific company to work for, I’ve enjoyed it. I retired once before and came back,” he said.

When asked if he’d return from retirement again, he was adamant retirement is for good this time saying “this is it”.

Miranda Ward


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