Fairfax not ready to dump print yet

The slow death of Fairfax’s print division will be drawn out further as the media giant boss Greg Hywood says the group is not yet ready to abandon print completely.

Fairfax booked a two per cent decline in full year revenue to $1.83bn from last year’s $1.87bn, with a 10 per cent loss overall from its group publishing and a lower earnings before tax attributed to ‘persisting print advertising weakness’.

Hywood described the company as a ‘digital rich business’, stating digital earnings make up over 40 per cent of earnings, and predicts next year it will top 60 per cent as print wanes further.

When asked about the future of digital-only publishing, Hywood told stakeholders plans to disassociate from print were still on the cards; however he says Fairfax is not yet ready to completely ditch its weekday newspaper publishing activites.

[Related: News Corp ignores print death wish]

“In terms of digital only publishing, we have been pretty clear that we will do it when it is beneficial to the business and when it meets consumer demand. Looking at these results we are not there yet but inevitably we will be,” says Hywood.

“Our duty is to maximise the cash we get out of it. We are spending our time, energy and focus on building our business model and when the time is right, closing print is what we will do.”

Rumours about a potential synergy between Fairfax and News Corp printing plants were also addressed as Fairfax looks to gradually scale down print operations.

“We are at a very early stage in terms of closing down our big plants, but if there are opportunities to work with others we will and we are,” says Hywood.

“Fairfax is rationalising print resources as we speak, and this is a continuing conversation and opportunities will arise as the business changes.”

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