News Limited’s Campbell Reid: Guardian Australia plan is like Australian edition of Playboy

campbell reid

News Limited’s most senior editorial executive has compared The Guardian’s strategy of launching in Australia with that of the now defunct Australian Playboy.

“Why do I need an Australian version of The Guardian when I can have the Fleet Street version,” Reid asked a trade press briefing on News Limited’s paywall strategy.

“As a consumer if I want to consume The Guardian, I’m portraying a whole lot of things when I say this. It’s like the Australian version of Playboy.”

Australian Playboy, which carried similar contents to the US version, closed 13 years ago.

In a briefing for media on the company’s recent move to a metered paywall, last Friday, Reid cast doubt on the whether the launch of online Australian version of the newspaper would grow its Australian readership.

“Who needs the Australian version of The Guardian when I can log to British version of The Guardian, which is the mothership?”

The Guardian this morning announced the launch of  its Australian digital edition. Speaking last week before the announcement Reid said the upcoming launch would be very interesting.

“Its going to be fascinating to see The Guardian, The Conversation and The Huffington Post, Crikey etc. They are all playing in the broad news space,” said Reid.

“I think if you tracked the Australians who consume the Guardian we know who those people are they read the Sydney Morning Herald, they probably read Mumbrella and Crikey then probably listen to the ABC and they probably go to The Guardian online as well.”

“They don’t need an Australian version to do that. Having said that, anyone who is boldly launching things and giving jobs to journalists and keeping journalism energetic is a good thing.”

Reid’s comments came as Australia’s largest newspaper publisher spoke about the move of the Herald Sun and Daily Telegraph to a metered paywall. The Courier Mail and Adelaide Advertiser will move to a metered model from next month.

News Limited said it was pleased with the launch so far and said that its strategy around encouraging consumers to pay would focus on the News Plus brand, while also highlighting the company’s sports and lifestyle properties.

“Fox Sports is obviously really important to this whole concept in that with our readers there’s nothing they are more passionate than sport. We think the bundle of the news brands you know and trust plus Fox Sports is really compelling,” said Reid.

“The expertise and conversation generation that newspaper journalists do so well married with the broadcast expertise that Fox Sports do so well … bring those skills together so well and mash them together digitally is a real sweet spot.”

Less than a week after the move to a metered system the company said it was not ready to release any numbers on the uptake on registrations.

However News Limited director of commercial development Les Wigan set out some of their broader targets. “Ultimately we’d like to see 20 to 25 per cent of our unique audience registering,” said Wigan. “I think that would be a minimal number.”

The company also discussed the continuing rollout of the Methode publishing system and confirm that the publishing system which allows editors to publish to print and the web from the one system was now rolled out to more than a third of the publisher’s mastheads.

“We have around 800 staff trained on Methode now and we are up to about 40 newspapers including community and regional papers,” said Reid, who indicated the next newspapers to get the system would be the Manly Daily and then some of the larger community newspapers.

“We are launching to a really strict rollout to the community newspapers and then more organically we are inserting Methode capability into the metros.”

“(The rollout) is going very well the 800 figure of people who have been trained is about a third of our journalists.”

At the time of publishing The Guardian had not responded to requests for comment.

Nic Christensen 

Reid recently conducted at Google Hangout with Mumbrella on the move to a metered paywall:


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