Loss of Print Advertising Forces News Corp Australia to Go Digital

May 27, 2020 Updated: May 28, 2020

News Corp Australia has announced that the majority of its regional and community papers will go digital-only from June 29, and some will cease entirely.

Executive Chairman Michael Miller attributed the significant portfolio reshaping to the changing habits of consumers and businesses, and the impact of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus.

Print advertising spending by businesses that had once sustained regional and community titles were already declining, according to a report by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

Adding to this, the CCP virus pandemic has created a “double impact” on advertising revenue, Miller noted, adding that tech platforms were profiting from media content without paying publishers.

“Consequently, to meet these changing trends, we are reshaping News Corp Australia to focus on where consumers and businesses are moving and to strengthen our position as Australia’s leading digital news media company,” said Miller in a press release on May 27.

The announcement comes with job losses as over 100 titles are impacted. Miller thanked the employees who might lose their jobs for their “professionalism, dedication, and contribution.”

Going forward, the bulk of News Corp’s regional and community titles will be streamlined and published digitally.

“More than 375 journalists will be specifically covering regional and community news and information. They will continue to serve, and live in, their local communities with the majority in regional Queensland where we have most of our titles,” Miller said.

Miller said that despite the changes, News Corp remains committed to serving Australia’s regions and communities.

Losing Revenue to Tech Giants

The ACCC’s Digital Platforms Report released in July found that a significant portion of advertising was being monopolised by Google and Facebook.

Users on these platforms have access to media publishers’ content, but often without landing on the medias’ own websites, leaving them uncompensated for the content they produce. In turn, the tech giants would be paid by advertisers for the web traffic generated by the content.

This has helped contribute to the slow decline in revenue for Australian media over a 15-year period.

The Australian government has tasked the ACCC to create a mandatory code that would force the tech giants to pay publishers for their content.

In 2001, Australian media had classified advertising revenues of around $2 billion ($3.08 billion when adjusted for inflation). But by 2016, this number had fallen to $200 million ($211 million when adjusted for inflation).

The code will cover issues related to data sharing, the rank and display of news content on feeds, enforcement mechanisms, and most importantly, revenue sharing from news content.

A draft of the code will be released at the end of July 2020 for consultation.

Epoch Times reporter Daniel Teng contributed to this article.

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