News Corp closes titles in Queensland, sells remaining stake in Community Newspaper Group to Seven West Media

News Corp has scaled back its involvement in the community and regional print newspaper market, selling the remaining 50.1% stake in Community Newspaper Group to Seven West Media.

The sale comes as the publisher also closes two Quest titles in Queensland, and after last week’s announcement that it would be shuttering the print operations on a Victorian Leader title.

The sale and closures follow the media company flagging interest in selling its regional assets in 2018, a prospect it put on hold when the Nine and Fairfax merger was announced.

Regarding the acquisition, Seven West Media WA CEO Maryna Fewster said the business was proud to name the Community News titles among its assets.

“Community News is a highly trusted voice connecting readers with the news and events that matter most to their local communities across Perth and Mandurah. We are proud to have complete ownership of this business which complements our existing audiences and media portfolio in WA.”

Seven West Media itself hasn’t had a trouble-free time in WA. Earlier this year, West Australian Newspapers editor Anthony De Ceglie called for voluntary redundancies ahead of newsroom integrations. The move saw the titles lose a lot of long-standing staff, including state political editor Gary Adshead who has since joined Nine News.

A leaked email to staff earlier this week also revealed that News Corp would be closing the doors on City North and City South in Queensland. A News Corp Australia spokesperson said the regions would now be covered by an expansion to the Brisbane News.

Last week also saw the announcement that print operations would cease on the Maribyrnong Leader, with the digital operations to continue. News Corp owns the Leader regional titles in Victoria. News Corp did not provide comment about how the closure would affect the Maribyrnong Leader team.

“News Corp Australia remains committed to regional and community newspapers with a network of more than 140 titles across Australia. We have decided to extend the distribution of our premium, glossy product, the Brisbane News, to cover the areas now serviced by City North and City South. Brisbane News is a premium weekly title giving readers the best in local news, real estate, and lifestyle. As a result, City North and City will cease publication in June,” a spokesperson said.

“There are no associated redundancies.”

Regarding the Community News sale, News Corp Australiasia executive chairman Michael Miller said the business wishes the best for the titles concerned.

“Community News has strong brands which play a vital role in the communities they serve. We are proud of our association with Community News and we want the best for its future which is why we believe the time is right for it to be consolidated within the broader portfolio of Seven West Media. Our thanks and congratulations to Michelle D’Almeida for her contribution as chair of CNG and best wishes for her future.”

The Seven mastheads have been publishing under the new ownership since the start of this week and the business will be relocated to Seven West Media’s Osborne Park headquarters in June.

Community Newspaper Group is currently the largest publisher in WA and produces 12 weekly free metropolitan print mastheads as well as 17 digital mastheads. Until the recent acquisition, it was a joint venture between Seven West Media and News Corp Australia.

The acquisition follows Nine’s sale of its former-Fairfax regional titles to ex-Domain boss Antony Catalano earlier this year.


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