Print sites to close as newspapers share
The three big newspaper publishers outside WA have agreed a historic deal to print each other's papers, spelling the end for several newspaper print sites, and, in effect, giving News Corp a stranglehold on much of the country's newspaper printing capability.
News Corp, Nine (formerly Fairfax), and Australian Community Media (ACM) say they will save millions of dollars by sharing print facilities around the country, saying that from now on they will compete on journalism, not printing.
The deal comes as regional and community newspapers have been decimated by the Covid crisis, with advertising spend plummeting to new depths, sending hundreds of newspapers to the wall. Metro papers have been hit hard too, with reduced paginations as a result.
ACM will permanently close three of the four sites it mothballed when Covid began, and instead will use News to print both its own newspapers, and those it prints for Nine at those sites, as well as printing its own newspapers at its own sites, including North Richmond.
The ACM plants in Canberra (Fyshwick) and Adelaide (Murray Bridge) will close at the end of the month, with its Wodonga site still under review. Its Ballarat plant will close on 2 October, with all printing transferring to the News site at Westgate, until News moves into its new greenfield site in Truganina next year.
ACM is also printing for independent publishers who are stepping into the gap left by News, primarily at its North Richmond facility, incuding for some Queensland papers. That site used to be owned by Fairfax, which was bought by Nine. Nine now has no print plants of its own, depending on its competitors to print The Age, the AFR, and the Sydney Morning Herald.
News Corp and Fairfax - which merged with Nine in 2018 - have had an agreement in place for years for their NSW 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 Financial Review in Ballarat, however, they will move to the new News Corp site at Truganina when it opens. 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 WA.
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.