As the local Australian Community Media newspapers that also includes the Canberra Times are offering deals for new subscribers to sign up to digital subscriptions before June 30th the news today is that the paper editions of the newspapers is set to rise substantially on June 27th.
From June 27th it is understood that the following increases will apply:
The Bay Post and Narooma News weekly editions will rise from $1.80 to $2.00
The Bega News will rise from $1.80 to $2.20
The Canberra Times - Monday to Friday from $2.50 to $3.00
- Saturday from $3.60 to $4.50
- Sunday from $2.50 to $3.00
ACM say that recent significant cost changes have made the increases unavoidable.
It was revealed in May 2022 that Australia's regional news-papers faced an 80 per cent increase in the cost of newsprint. They now add to their justification of a price increase that rising fuel and energy prices and other supply chain pressures add further unavoidable costs to the production and distribution of their newspapers.
In an article that has gone out across ACM mastheads the company says that it has joined Country Press Australia to "seek emergency government relief to help keep regional newspapers printing".
ACM alleges that "The incoming Labor Government has already committed to deliver a $10 million "crisis response" package for the sector".
In May, 2022 the Country Press Association, which represents 160 regional newspapers, met with then-federal Communications Minister Paul Fletcher and opposition communications spokesperson Michelle Rowland (now the Minister for Communications).
In the past couple of years since taking over from Fairfax the Australian Community Media company has ceased printing the Moruya Examiner, reduced the Bay Post to just one edition per week and, most recently, reduced that paper from 24 pages per week to just 16 pages.
ACM still publishes its free Independent on Thursdays that serves the community well as fire starters, bird cage liners and TV guides for the last 0.05% of the population who rely on such a thing. With claims that the cost of paper is to rise considerably it is inevitable that ACM will be rethinking its free weekly supermarket edition.
On May 8th 2022 the Canberra times reported that "the Coalition (Paul Fletcher) on Sunday announced a $10 million package to ease the damage in the short-term, while promising further work on the sector's sustainability after the election".
"We will move urgently to deliver this new round following the election, working closely with the sector, with payments expected to be made from 1 July when newsprint prices are due to increase."
The following day, on May 9th,2022 the Canberra Times reported that
"After Labor leader Anthony Albanese flagged an intention to protect regional mastheads last week, a party spokesman on Monday confirmed it would match the Coalition's commitment.
"An Albanese Labor Government will deliver a support package to help the media through the transition from a decade of Liberal National government mismanagement to a principled-based and evidence-informed approach under Labor, including funding to address the newsprint crisis."
Next came the report on May 13th that Labor had "unveiled a $29 million package to support regional, local and community media, which includes matching the Coalition's lifeline to papers under threat from rising printing costs".
"In addition to the $10 million fund for regional newspapers, an Albanese government would set aside $5 million to support independent suburban, First Nations and multicultural publishers".
This commitment comes on top of a $10.3 million bailout as ACM cried poor over lost revenues due to Covid. In 2021 Australian Community Media was awarded more than $10m in Covid grants while scaling back newspapers. Of ACM’s 138 publications, 86 were suspended during the coronavirus pandemic. One of these, the Moruya Examiner, was meant to be restored but wasn't.
The then-communications minister, Paul Fletcher, said at the time of the announcement “In the case of newspaper publishers the funding is conditional on titles which have been suspended recommencing printing, recommencing publications, and that will be a condition of the grant agreements which must be entered into before funding can flow.”
“In the case of newspaper publishers, that funding is for print newspapers. And so where printing of newspaper editions has been suspended, that will need to recommence before funding can flow.”
The Moruya Examiner never returned and the Bay Post went from twice a week to once a week whilst only becoming a shadow of its former masthead that once played a respected and vital role in informing and including its community. It is now little more than a clone and a vehicle for advertising.
Will it sell for $2.00? We will just have to wait and see.