News Corp says it will suspend printing of 60 community newspapers in NSW, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia from April 9.
The organisation said advertising revenue had rapidly declined after the restrictions placed on real estate auctions and home inspections, and the forced closure of event venues and dine-in restaurants during the coronavirus pandemic.
The move follows the news of the closure of several Victorian independent newspapers in March because of the decline in revenue resulting from the pandemic.
In a statement on Wednesday, News Corp said the community mastheads would “continue to publish digitally with reporters and photographers expanding News Corp’s hyper-local news coverage for consumers across Australia”.
News Corp Australasia executive chairman Michael Miller said the decision to suspend printing of its community newspapers was not taken lightly.
He said News Corp remained committed to serving Australia’s many communities with trusted, professional journalism.
Ad revenue forecasts slashed as regional news become the first media casualties of COVID-19.
Posted by Media Watch on Monday, March 30, 2020
The impact of COVID-19 on the community newspapers came on top of the toll on media from the refusal of digital platforms to pay publishers to use their content, Mr Miller said.
He said during the COVID-19 emergency News Corp’s main priority was to preserve jobs and get the company in a strong position 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,” Mr Miller said.
“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.”
The statement also said News Corp would give community newspaper readers the opportunity to take up free 28-day digital subscriptions.
The offer allows access to the websites, apps and mobile sites of News’s metro mastheads — the Herald Sun, The Daily Telegraph, The Courier-Mail and The Advertiser.