News Corp suspends 60 community print titles

News Corp Australia will pause production on 60 community newspaper titles in NSW, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia from April 9.

News Corp Australasia executive chairman Michael Miller said the decision to suspend printing of its community newspapers was not taken lightly, and comes in the wake of plunging advertising revenues from the real estate and hospitality sectors.

“The suspension of our community print editions has been forced on us by the rapid decline in advertising revenues following the restrictions placed on real estate auctions and home inspections, the forced closure of event venues and dine-in restaurants in the wake of the Coronavirus emergency,” he said.

The titles affected include the Quest print products in Queensland, Messenger in South Australia, Leader in Victoria and NewsLocal in NSW. The community mastheads will continue to publish digitally during this time.

News Corp is offering a free 28-day subscription for community readers, allowing them to access their local titles. News Corp had announced the initiative in March, giving consumers access to its digital mastheads for free on a new subscription basis.

The Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) recently slammed regional papers for closing doors during the COVID-19 pandemic, saying this is a time when communities need news more than ever before.

Miller said News Corp remained committed to serving Australia’s many communities and would be increasing and developing its community coverage. However, he said, the impact of COVID-19 had come on top of the impact of digital platforms, which further compounded the struggles faced by publishers.

News Corp’s main focus was to preserve jobs, said Miller.

“During this unprecedented time it is imperative that we reduce costs while continuing to keep the community informed and doing all we can to retain jobs. The print suspension will allow us to assess the shape of the market itself and future conditions, taking into account how the coronavirus situation unfolds in the coming period,” he said.

Yesterday, Nine suspended some print products, including its Domain real estate lift out, as a result of changing market conditions.


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