ACM Ballarat newspaper plant being auctioned

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Newspaper printing equipment from Australian Community Media’s Ballarat plant is being auctioned off, as the regional newspaper publisher closes the factory.

Up for auction: manroland Uniset from ACM Ballarat
Up for auction: manroland Uniset at ACM Ballarat

Ballarat was one of nine printing sites ACM inherited as part of the deal when it bought the Fairfax regional press, and it is the fifth to be closed, with the loss of 134 jobs.

ACM now has no printing capacity in Victoria. Its papers are now being printed by News at its Westgate site and will transfer to the new Truganania News plant when it opens next year. News is also printing all Nine's Victoria papers.

According to Peter Coleman’s newspaper industry website GXpress, the plant has two main newspaper presses going under the hammer: a 10 unit manroland Uniset with three folders and a 32pp manroland Geoman, as well as various peripheral items associated with newspaper printing.

Print sharing – once anathema to the nation’s newspapermen – has become mainstream as publishers failed to justify long hours of no printing on their own presses. News Corp and Fairfax – which merged with Nine in 2018 – have had an agreement in place for years for their New South Wales and Queensland mastheads, while ACM has been printing Nine newspapers in Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, and Western Australia.

In Victoria, ACM has been printing Nine newspapers The Age and The Australian Financial Review. In Queensland, News is closing its Brisbane plant to focus on its Sunshine Coast facility.

In South Australia, News will continue to print the Nine newspapers it took on when ACM stood down its Murray Bridge print plant in April. ACM prints for Nine in Tasmania and Western Australia.

ACM is resurrecting between 50 and 60 of its regional titles that it closed at the beginning of the pandemic. News, by contrast, is permanently stopping print of the majority of its 112 community newspapers, with 76 going online only and the other 36 disappearing altogether.

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