Blow to NZ print as Bauer shuts shop
The largest magazine publisher in New Zealand, Bauer Media, is closing its business with immediate effect, following the government's refusal to undo its ban on magazine printing.
Almost one in every two magazines printed in New Zealand is owned by Bauer, which is also the biggest publisher in Australia.
Most of its NZ magazines were printed by WebStar, part of the BlueStar group owned by Tom Sturgess and private equity. Its heatset presses will now have a gaping hole in their schedule.
Brendon Hill, CEO, Bauer ANZ, said: “This is a devastating blow for our committed and talented team who have worked tirelessly to inform and entertain New Zealanders, through some of the country’s best-loved and most-read magazines."
Ruth Cobb, CEO of PrintNZ said, “It is a blow. Bauer publishes the big magazine titles like Women's Weekly and Women's Day. Since the government announced it was banning non-essential print – which included magazines – on Friday, we have been working night and day to get them to change their mind. Today they said no to magazines, so Bauer closed its business.”
Bauer Media NZ publishes many of the country's biggest entertainment, lifestyle and current affairs titles including the NZ Listener, Woman’s Day, New Zealand Woman’s Weekly, North and South and Next, along with a digital network. It is all now closed.
Hill said Bauer saw little likelihood of advertising revenue coming back to sustainable levels once the virus was over.
Prospective buyers are now looking at individual Bauer tites, with a job lot sale unlikely according to Bauer.
PrintNZ managed limited success in its efforts to change the government's no-print edict – foreign language newspapers and some remote community newspapers have been allowed to be printed, but only a handful other non-daily newspapers.
All non-essential print in New Zealand is currently banned under the Level 4 Covid-19 restrictions. This means, for instance, a printer could produce floor graphics showing where people should stand in a shopping centre, but not a graphic saying that that the centre would be reopening as soon as the virus was over.
Most Kiwi printers are currently operating a limited service, with reduced staff, with the government support of NZ$585 a week for 12 weeks for staff being widely taken up.