Guardian Australia cuts losses, announces first profit since launch

Guardian Australia has announced its first operating profit since launch in 2013, finishing the latest financial year with $700,000 in profit.

It is the first time Guardian Australia – which survives through a combination of advertising and contributions from readers – has achieved a profit since the company arrived five years ago. The Guardian Australia has said the profits will be invested back into journalism.

The Guardian Australia’s relaunched its website and rebranded earlier this year

As it currently stands, 64% of Guardian Australia’s revenue comes from advertising, while 36% comes from reader revenue. The company has 65,000 paying Australian readers.

At the same time, Guardian Media Group, the parent company of Guardian Australia, has injected capital into the publisher to repay loans, including its start up loan to founder and philanthropist Graeme Wood.

Once it has repaid Wood, Guardian Australia will use the remaining $9m capital for strategic growth plans.

Guardian Australia’s founding editor-in-chief, Katharine Viner, is now the editor-in-chief of Guardian News & Media. She was joined by managing director, Ian McClelland, who last year moved to the UK to become Guardian Media Group’s director of corporate development.

The office of Guardian Australia where the team moved in January 2015

Now, the local arm is run by editor-in-chief Lenore Taylor and new managing director, Dan Stinton.

Today, Stinton said reader support had been a “vital” part of Guardian Australia’s revenue, noting the company couldn’t break even without it.

“Advertising remains an important revenue stream and is performing well, but its future is far less certain due to the increasing dominance of Google and Facebook. We will continue to rely on the generosity of readers to grow and support our Australian journalism,” Stinton said.

“We have not put up a paywall as we want our journalism to be available to all, in order for it to have the greatest impact possible.”

Stinton says Guardian Australia doesn’t have a paywall to allow for greatest impact of journalism

On the proposed merger of Fairfax and Nine specifically, Stinton said they would become a “formidable” competitor from an advertising perspective.

“Guardian Australia’s audience is unique and growing, and this will enable us to hold our own in market, but reader revenue will become even more critical in the years ahead,” he said.

His comments added editor Taylor’s last night, who told Q&A: “The problem is there is actually no connection anymore between a commercially strong organisation and a journalistically strong organisation. Nine journalists do some good journalism, but it’s very different from the kind of journalism that is done at Fairfax.

“We created Guardian Australia five years ago to try to bring another voice into the Australian media landscape. By comparison with Fairfax, certainly by comparison with the Nine Entertainment Co, we are quite small. But that’s why we entered the market – to try to create a new voice. This is going to make it difficult for us commercially because the ad market has now got these three huge organisations in it, and this is an issue that really should be discussed a whole lot more,” she later added.

But Stinton said overall, it was an exciting time for the business.

“Guardian Australia’s audience is unique and growing, and this will enable us to hold our own in market, but reader revenue will become even more critical in the years ahead,” Stinton said.

“It’s a genuinely exciting time for Guardian Australia. Now that we have reached breakeven we are in the process of completing a new strategic plan for the medium term. It’s too early to go into any details of that now, but it is absolutely our intention to invest more in Australian journalism and become a dominant progressive voice in the Australian media landscape.”

Guardian Media Group finished the financial year in the UK, which ends on April 1, with revenues of £217.0m, halving losses from £38m to £19m in the year to end of March.

A formal statement from ASIC on the results should be live by Thursday.


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