Media buyers say News Corp’s closure of mX is not beginning of the end of print papers

Simon Ryan


Media buyers have said News Corp’s decision to close the mX commuter newspaper was inevitable because of the shift to mobile by consumers, but are split on what it means for newspapers more broadly.

News Corp announced the move yesterday afternoon with 30 journalist jobs now in the air, but media agency boss Simon Ryan says the publisher had little choice.

“It’s not rocket science,” said Ryan. “Consumers are now turning to their mobiles for immediate access to breaking news and content. The closure of mX is understandable and not a huge surprise given the changed media habits of commuters.”

MXOther media buyers had similar views with ZenithOptimedia CEO Ian Perrin lamenting the closure, noting that when MX launched in 2001 it filled an important gap in the advertising market.

“At launch mX was a compelling offer for both consumers, who got a light entertaining read on the way home, and advertisers who could target a specific audience at a specific time,” said Perrin.

“The reality however is that mobile technology has totally leapfrogged their product. It’s a smart decision by News to make a quick break.”

OMD CEO Peter Horgan said it was a commercial decision to close the newspapers: “News Corp needs to make commercial decisions about which distribution channels are viable for them.

“I think with momentum shifting to digital they have made a call on a publication that was never a cornerstone of our go to market strategy. MX was useful in its day but on the fringes.”

Most of the media agency bosses, Mumbrella spoke with, were reluctant to say that the mX closure would have broader implications for print.

“While the newspaper market is challenged, I think there is a big difference between MX and other titles,” said ZO’s Perrin.

“Mainstream newsmedia have built value around their key writers, they have adapted their models to online platforms and benefit from a greater diversity of revenue. So I’m not sure the mX closure has that great a bearing on the long term sustainability of others.”

Ryan, whose clients include News Corp’s chief print rival Fairfax, agreed saying: “Potential print closures over the coming years are unlikely.

“There’s still strong demand locally and with no real mass media print closures happening abroad. It’s a check and balance, something that’s important to our communities and drives debate, discussion and advertising opportunities.”

Sydney managing director of independent Nunn Media Chris Walton was more hesitant about the implications of the mX closure.

“If you look at the signals over the last five years you have to conclude at some point some titles would close or not exist in their current form,” said Walton.

“I think this is more about the economics of trying to run a free newspaper. I don’t think it changes the state of newspapers… it is just more evidence of the challenges they face.”


Source: SMI

However he also noted the broader exodus of advertising from newspapers which according to Standard Media Index has seen media agency spend fall from $1.316bn in 2007 to $783m in 2014.

“From a commercial point of view you just have to do the weight test on any newspaper and pick it up to see it is thinner and they aren’t getting the advertising they used to,” said Walton.

“mX was launched for its tidbits/journalism all of the way home but consumer habits have changed. Get on any bus or train and everyone has their nose down on their screens. It’s much more competitive, you have all the news sites, games, emails etc.

“It was no longer relevant as people found other ways to consume news.”

Nic Christensen 


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