A rapid decline in advertising revenue has forced News Corp to suspend printing 60 community newspapers in NSW, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia from April 9.
The newspapers, which include Sydney’s Manly Daily and the Wentworth Courier, will continue to be produced but will only be published digitally.
News Corp Australasia executive chairman Michael Miller said the decision to suspend printing of its community newspapers was not taken lightly.
“The suspension of our community print editions has been forced on us by the rapid decline in advertising revenues following the restrictions placed on real estate auctions and home inspections, the forced closure of event venues and dine-in restaurants in the wake of the Coronavirus emergency,’ Miller said.
As part of the suspension News Corp will be offering community title readers the opportunity to take up a free 28-day digital subscription offer to allow them to access their local community titles online. The offer also allows access to the websites, apps and mobile sites of News’ metro mastheads – the Herald Sun, The Daily Telegraph, The Courier-Mail and The Advertiser.
Mr Miller said News Corp remained committed to serving Australia’s many communities with trusted, professional journalism and as consumers increasingly turned to digital for local news, News would be increasing and developing its community coverage.
But he said the impact of COVID-19 on the community print titles came on top of the toll on media from the refusal of digital platforms to pay publishers to use their content.
He said that during the COVID-19 emergency, News Corp’ main priority was to preserve jobs and to best position its business to counter the crisis.
“During this unprecedented time it is imperative that we reduce costs while continuing to keep the community informed and doing all we can to retain jobs. The print suspension will allow us to assess the shape of the market itself and future conditions, taking into account how the Coronavirus situation unfolds in the coming period,” he said.
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