Could Fairfax’s Melbourne management be so anxious about rivals accessing its sparkling new Collins Street headquarters they are already hatching plans to bar News Limited employees from the premises?
Sources close to Fairfax radio station 3AW say Fairfax management has told high-profile Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt that he will not be permitted to conduct his regular Tuesday morning radio slot in the glistening $110 million “media hub”, which will house the 3AW and Magic 1278 studios in addition to The Age and Financial Review newsrooms.
Instead, Fairfax has reportedly told Bolt to build his own studio in the Herald Sun‘s Southbank building if he wishes to continue with his 3AW spots.
Bolt refused to deny the new arrangements when contacted by Crikey today, choosing instead to sledge the broadsheet from the sidelines: “I’d be astonished that my mere presence would inspire such fear.”
When asked directly whether the studio was being built, Bolt repeated his assertion that The Age was running scared.
Crikey has previously reported on the tension between The Age and conservative talk station 3AW, which traditionally tends to favour News Limited contributors on its airwaves.
Last year, Fairfax’s 3AW morning host Neil Mitchell was criticised for scooping The Age with a story about disgraced funnyman Steve Vizard handing back his Order of Australia in tabloid rival the Herald Sun. The story appeared on the Hun‘s front page, despite Mitchell’s status as a Fairfax freelancer.
Mitchell continues to write a regular op-ed column for the Herald Sun. His Fairfax radio show is cross-promoted via a tagline at the bottom of his pieces.
Fairfax acquired Southern Cross broadcasting for $480 million in 2007, which includes the high-rating 2UE in Sydney and 3AW in Melbourne, and a number of television production assets.
Get Crikey FREE to your inbox every weekday morning with the Crikey Worm.
The statuesque new Fairfax building is near to completion with a recent tender being offered in the pages of The Age for bidders to run the in-house cafe.
Bolt appeared on the 3AW breakfast program this morning, but the topic of the special studio wasn’t breached with hosts Ross Stevenson and John Burns launching instead into a discussion about which country is “the most beautiful in the world”.
Crikey contacted Age editor-in-chief Paul Ramadge and 3AW program director Clark Forbes for comment on this story but we didn’t hear back before deadline.