Uncertainty for NINE regional papers: are they non-core assets to offload

The merger of Fairfax Media and Nine Entertainment on December the 10th will establish Australia's largest media business comprising four streams being publishing, television, Stan with the residue being of Fairfax's regional and New Zealand publishing assets that will include the Bay Post, Moruya Examiner and Narooma News

Nine chief executive Hugh Marks announced the new structure to Nine and Fairfax staff today.

Publishing is reported to include The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, the Financial Review, and Nine digital and events.

Of concern remains the fact that The Financial Review revealed in July 2018 that Fairfax's regional and NZ businesses, inclusive of our own local mastheads, were "on the table as non-core assets for Nine to offload". In February this year it was reported that revenue from Fairfax's rural and community papers and digital media fell 8.6 per cent to $187 million despite a seven per cent cost improvement. There has been no indication of any improvement since that report however the impact of advertising giants Google and Facebook has seen a massive blow in regional newspaper revenue with newspapers websites now vying for GoogleAds to bring in additional income.

Domain and Macquarie Media remain unchanged that might give support for retention of the poor performing regional papers used as a distribution vehicle for the Domain insert.

It is reported today that the merger will see 144 roles made redundant either because of duplication or vacant positions which will not be needed in the new company and a further 92 or so redundancies, across media sales, technology and back office though apparently none of these redundancies or cost cutting actions are to be from newsrooms . Most of the redundancies will be in Sydney and Melbourne.

It is understood that the changes and redundancies will be completed by the end of this week as the Fairfax name comes to an end after 177 years on December 7th.

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