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New polling firm rises from Newspoll ashes as trio attempt ‘to meet an ongoing need’

Martin O'Shannessy

Martin O’Shannessy

Three former directors of defunct Newspoll are behind a new venture which they claim will “fill the void” left by the closure of the polling company.

Former Newspoll chief executive Martin O’Shannessy, project director John Davis and account services director Frederic Anne are all partners in OmniPoll, formed, according to its website, to “meet an ongoing need”.

The trio were among around 130 people to lose their jobs following the decision of News Corp, which jointly owned Newspoll with WPP-owned Millward Bown, to shut the business. It formally closed down last Friday.

While the Newspoll name will be retained, polling duties will be taken over by Galaxy Research, an automated service which already conducts research for News Corp’s tabloid newspapers.

The OmniPoll website said it has been conceived “by three leaders of the Newspoll business” to “keep asking the right questions to the right people in the right manner”.

“OmniPoll fills the void created by the closure of the company trading as Newspoll,” it says. “OmniPoll clients will enjoy the care and attention to detail that correctly predicted 60 state and federal election outcomes between 1985 and 2015.”

O’Shannessy insisted the new business has not been set up to compete with Galaxy/Newspoll as it would not conduct the fortnightly federal polls.

Instead the aim will be to continue working with Newspoll clients who still require the expertise of a research and polling specialist, he said. New business will also be sourced.

O’Shannessy added it will offer mainly online research but will have the ability to outsource telephone polling to Millward Brown which has a National Field Services division specialising in collecting data over the telephone.

“We will still be able to offer that service for those who want to pay for it but we won’t conduct the polling ourselves,” he said, adding the cost of online or automated research is a quarter of the cost of using the telephone.

He told Mumbrella the writing was on the wall for Newspoll a year ago as the operation struggled to remain profitable in an era of automated polling.

“Everything has its day,” he said. “It’s the new world.”

The closure of Newspoll sparked anger with staff not only upset at the terms of redundancy packages but angry at learning of the closure through an article in The Australian.

But O’Shannessy played down the unrest, insisting everyone who was entitled to redundancy packages received them. He added that shareholders behaved “responsibly” by calling it a day when it became clear Newspoll was no longer financially viable.

Newspoll was founded in 1985 and conducted live fortnightly telephone polling, the results of which appeared in The Australian.

The automated polling, known as robopolls, uses computers to make calls automatically with participants responding to recorded messages using the keypad on their phone.

Steve Jones

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