Is this the best performance by an Australian media company in 2007-08? DMG Australia is the local radio arm of the UK-based Daily Mail and General Trust which reported its 2007-08 results overnight and buried in a generally gloomy statement with big cost cuts and sackings was a tiny gem. DMG Australia, which runs the Nova and Vega stations here, had a remarkable rise in revenue and returned to profitability:

DMG Radio Australia returned to profitability, driven by underlying~ revenue growth of 24%, against market growth of 6% nationally.

The improvement in performance was driven by a year of strong growth for the national Nova network which recorded an increase in operating profit of 61% on the prior year.

Overall revenue rose to 55 million pounds (about $A110 million in 2008 dollars before the slump) from 40 million and the operational profit of 2 million was up from the loss of 4 million pounds in 2007.

But they’re not doing so well in the UK. Job losses and cost cuts of 100 million pounds for the heartland papers of DMG in London (around $A240 million at the current depressed exchange rate).

Profits at its regional and national papers fell and 400 jobs will be lost. In fact UK reports say the cuts could be larger because the company is facing a whacking 20% rise in newsprint costs as the world’s biggest producer Norske Skog boost its prices to try and improve its profitability. (It’s the biggest newsprint group in Australasia).

The cuts will mainly affect its national and regional newspaper businesses, though it said no titles would be closed. Selective disposals would be made from non-core businesses.

A 10p increase in the price of the Daily Mail on Saturdays would generate an extra 10 million pounds a year. Other cost saving moves will include cutting one edition of the Evening Standard in London. DMGT has held talks with the Independent over the possibility of sharing back-office functions such as IT and finance. The company declined to comment.

Underlying profits fell 9% to 262 million pounds, but impairment charges of 264 million resulted in a pre-tax loss of 68 million, compared with a profit of 142 million the previous year. Revenue rose 8 million pounds to 2.31 billion pounds.

The job cuts come a few days after Tony O’Reilly’s Independent News And Media revealed cuts of more than 90 of the 460 staff at The Independent and The Independent on Sunday papers in London. — Glenn Dyer

Two-faced cat plague spreads over the globe. A breaking Australian news story out of Perth about a two-faced kitten born at Swan Veterinary Clinic is getting lots of international coverage. And why wouldn’t it? It’s certainly an amazing fun freaky Friday tale. But here’s the curious thing. There appears to be a veritable plague of two-faced cats worldwide at the moment. Check out this YouTube video posted two months ago. And The Huffington Post reported a similar two-faced cat was born in Ohio in the US back in August. Mook was unable to contact local community newspaper photographer Matthew Poon to corroborate this latest report but did contact Swan Veterinary Clinic who confirmed a two-faced cat had been born there. Curiouser and curiouser – what is going on?!! — Media Mook

Tasmania — bigger than Australia. Leveraging on the hype surrounding Baz Luhrmann’s epic movie Australia, Tourism Tasmania has conceived a witty, non-movie campaign. Launched nationally on November 20, two days after the Australia premiere in Sydney, the Tasmania non-movie campaign includes: movie trailers for screening as cinema advertising showing Tasmania as a breathtaking holiday location; fictitious movie tickets and film posters driving the audience to a new micro site (going live Nov 24) showcasing Tasmania’s unique wildlife, breathtaking landscapes and historic sites. The campaign celebrates Tasmania the destination.

Ranked globally by the likes of Lonely Planet, Travel + Leisure and Conde Nast Traveller as one of the most desirable holiday destinations on the planet, Tasmania’s purity, heritage wilderness and history is in stark contrast with the dry, dusty dramas of Australia. Tasmania, the movie trailer will screen nationally in cinemas from November 27. Stay tuned for…well…nothing. — Sarah Gordon

Why “naming and shaming” may not keep offensive content off the web. I’ve felt frustrated by the incredibly supportive Swedish media exposure of Pirate Bay, which I consider to be an illegal downloading site. But the publishing of these autopsy pictures of two children who were battered to death takes the debate to a whole other level. Pirate Bay is trying to portray itself as a defender of freedom on the internet and an anticorporation pioneer. However, these claims ring pretty hollow when the site is advertising-funding. Any time they are met with criticism, as in the Arboga case, they call the critics old people who are not moving with the digital times. — Organ Grinder @ The Guardian

Filmmaker refused permission to shoot in Central Java. Local officials of Karanganyar District in Surakarta, a city in Java, Indonesia, refused to allow a film director to shoot a movie and even issued threats against the crew over accusations that the movie’s script is filled with communist ideas. In a press statement, the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) condemned the ban imposed by the Karanganyar district government and threats made by local communities as disproportional to the alleged offense. AJI added that the ban and the threats restrict freedom of expression, in this case, through the medium of film. It added that censorship, intimidation, terror, violence and oppression in the name of certain ideologies are legacies of the New Order regime and an infringement of the principles of democracy and human rights. — IFEX 

One paper thrives on financial chaos. The newspaper industry is in chaos, but you wouldn’t know it at the Financial Times, the UK-based business daily that now sells more copies in the US than in the UK. In fact, the economic crisis has been good for business, says Caspar de Bono, managing director of Financial Times Business. — Newspaper Death Watch

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey