Victorian Government’s newspaper ad ban an act of ‘spite’, News Corp declares

News Corp Australia has fired back at the Victorian Government over its decision to cease print newspaper advertising, describing it as an act of “spite”.

As Mumbrella revealed on Tuesday, ads created by the public service will no longer be placed in metropolitan papers from 1 July. A spokesperson for the Andrews Government said the dramatic shift in its paid media strategy was part of a return to pre-pandemic levels of spend and a need to deliver taxpayers better bang for buck.

Michael Miller_M360 2018

Michael Miller responded on LinkedIn

Michael Miller, managing director of News Corp Australia, responded this morning via his LinkedIn.

“The Andrew’s government’s move to deny 2.6m Victorian readers of newspapers important information through public notice advertising shows disdain for the needs of the people it is meant to serve,” Miller wrote.

“The numbers don’t add up. It is hard to see this directive as anything other than an act of spite against those who dare hold it to account.”

The Herald Sun today devoted its front page to coverage of the move, saying: “Dan bans vital ad campaigns aimed at reducing the road toll, bushfire safety and public health alerts, in mastheads read by 2.6 million Victorians.”

Today’s front page of The Herald Sun

Television and digital advertising “will remain an important part of the government’s advertising agenda”, a government spokesperson said.

The move could equate to a loss of millions of dollars in revenue for News Corp Australia’s The Herald Sun and Nine Publishing’s The Age.It’s understood the Victorian Government’s move away from print advertising took both companies by surprise.

Mumbrella has approached the government for comment about Miller’s remarks.

In 2019-20, 14.7 per cent of the $84.6 million splashed on government ads went to newspaper spots, according to official documents. That’s roughly $12.4 million. The year prior, of the $102.8 million spent in total, newspapers took a 13.2 per cent share of the pie, or about $13.5 million.

And based on the latest figures for 2021-22, which show a mammoth surge in spend due to the Covid-19 pandemic, to $150 million, papers grabbed 9.6% or about $14.4 million.

Mumbrella understands Victorian Government bean counters based the decision on global trends that have seen public money shift away from newspapers on the back of declining circulations.

Victoria’s government advertising is purchased through a function known as Master Agency Media Services (MAMS), via a contract managed by Treasury.

OMD currently holds the MAMS contract.


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