Is ‘shared print’ starting to unravel with AFR’s WA cut?

May 09, 2024 at 10:44 am by admin

Consolidation of print capacity in WA – and the market power it bestows – is being blamed for Nine’s decision to cease locally-printed editions of its national Australian Financial Review.

The publisher says the printed paper will not be available in Western Australia after May 22, because of what it says is “an uncompetitive abuse of market power” A digital edition will still be available online.

According to the AFR, printer Colourpress – owned by Seven West Media, publisher of the West Australian newspaper – has told Nine it will terminate the current contract early, and has proposed a new contract it says would “double the cost of printing”.

Nine is not happy, with the move being billed as “a targeted attack” on the Financial Review and editor-in-chief Michael Stutchbury calling it an “abuse of market power”.

The AFR later quoted former ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel that Colourpress may have breached section 46 of the Competition and Consumer Act, which prohibits companies from engaging in “conduct that has the purpose or effect of substantially lessening competition”.

Historically, both Nine predecessor Fairfax Media and News Corp had their own press facilities in WA, but this is no longer the case, leaving SWM’s West Australian Newspapers, which has a substantial KBA-equipped facility in Osborne Park.

News sold its Sunday Times newspaper to SWM in 2016, closing its Perth Print facility that year.

Australian Community Media sold the Mandurah, WA print centre it had acquired from Nine to commercial printer Ive Group in 2020, with Ive reported to have signed a $100 million contract to print and distribute its publications, but closed the facility on May 19 last year.

ACM, News and Nine had signed an agreement to use each other’s print facilities earlier in 2020, but GXpress understands Seven was not party to this.

Shared facilities have become a way of life since the 2020 agreement, with Nine opting not to print any of the newspapers it bought from Fairfax Media in 2018. It sold the Rural Press community newspapers division and print facilities to Antony Catalano and Alex Waislitz, who trade as Australian Community Media.

ACM then closed the Ormiston, Brisbane plant it had bought from Nine – selling the press to News for its new Truganina plant – with Nine’s work moving to Murarrie and later Yandina in Queensland.

In Sydney and Melbourne, where ACM closed the former Fairfax print centres in North Richmond and Ballarat (respectively), News has become the dominant printer, handling Nine’s papers and other work. With the closure of some other titles, some smaller private newspaper printing operations have ceased trading, including Streamline Press in Melbourne, and Horton Media in Brisbane.

GXpress was unable to reach Seven West Media in Perth or Sydney for comment.

Peter Coleman

Pictured: West Australian Newspapers’ Osborne Park facility



Sections: Print business


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