Bike lanes in Sydney? We need Moore. What does Sydney lord mayor Clover Moore have to do with planned bike routes on Castlereagh Street in Sydney? Everything, if you read today’s Daily Telegraph. While the tabloid’s dislike for the mayor is no secret, it led today’s reports on changes to the cycleway plans with:

“In a major blow to Lord Mayor Clover Moore’s dream of replacing cars with bikes in Sydney’s centre, the state government has dramatically altered plans for her showpiece CBD cycleway.”

 Is it a blow to Moore? Were the bike lanes a Sydney Council initiative? No and no, if you read onwards, or in The Sydney Morning Heraldwhich reports:

“The government had wanted to build the new cycleways before it started construction of a light rail line down George Street in April.”

That’s right, the NSW government is considering changes to one of its own proposals — not one by Sydney Council. As well as the news piece, the Tele‘s editorial had a go at Moore, saying:

“It will not amuse Moore that one cause of delay is the need for a thorough environmental impact assessment. You can’t be too careful when you’re trying to save the planet.”

Never let the facts get in the way of a good story. — Sally Whyte

Newspaper circulations sink the paper mills. Newspaper and magazine sales continued to fall in Australia in the September quarter, as they did in the United States and across Europe — especially the UK. And lower sales of print copy editions means less demand for paper for newspapers and magazines.

Many of Australia’s papers and magazine publishers source their paper locally in Australasia. But the biggest producer in the world is Finnish giant UPM, which overnight revealed plans to cut more than 500 jobs and costs by 150 million euros. UPM also announced the closure of paper machines in a number of countries.

The company will shut paper machines in Britain and France as well as two in Finland. The firm estimates this will mean the loss of 550 jobs, but has not specified how this will break down nationally. But it will cut annual production capacity by 800,000 tonnes a year — more than the amount of paper produced in Australia each year.

The driver for the move has been the collapse in newspaper and magazine sales, especially in Europe, which is UPM’s key market.

Many of the papers and magazines in northern Europe are printed on UPM’s paper, including the Financial Times, Le Monde, The Economist and Marie Claire, according to the Financial Times. But European newspaper sales have fallen 25% in the past five years (papers in France and Germany have been badly hit and several have closed). Australian sales are down by just 20% in the same time, according to data from the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers. Last year, UPM produced nearly 12 million tonnes of graphic papers, including newsprint and magazine paper, across its European, US and Asian operations. That will fall sharply in the next year. — Glenn Dyer

BSkyB becomes Sky. While Rupert Murdoch and his minions were trying to avoid questions from Stephen Mayne at the 21st Century Fox annual meeting in tinseltown, across the pond in London the Murdochs’ 39% owned UK Pay TV business, BSkyB, was wrapping up its multi-billion dollar rebirth as a European media giant — and with a new name.

Instead of being called BSkyB, with which it christened itself after the bailout of British Broadcasting by Sky in 1990, the merged company will now be known as Sky, dropping the words “British” and “Broadcasting”. The simplification takes the company back to its roots when it was established in a major gamble by Rupert Murdoch to take on established state and commercial broadcasters in Europe.

The decision to rename the group came as it confirmed the takeovers of Sky Italia and Sky Deutschland for 6.89 billion pounds, or AUD$12.4 billion.

The new company will be a huge pan-European Pay TV giant with more than 11 billion pounds in annual revenue (more than AUD$20 billion) and 20 million customers in the UK, Germany, Italy, Austria and Ireland. It will have a combined budget of more than AUD$8.3 billion (twice as large as the annual TV ad revenue stream in Australia) and deliver profits of more than AUD$2.3 billion annually, much of which is generated by Britain (Italy is a loss maker and the German business is not much better).

“The three Sky businesses will be even better together,” said BSkyB chief executive Jeremy Darroch, who will run the enlarged group. “By joining together, we will share our strengths and expertise while retaining a strong identity in each country where we operate. The opportunity ahead is substantial and we believe the new Sky will be good for customers, content creators and shareholders alike,” he said in a statement.

Much of the more than AUD$12 billion Sky paid will flow to 21st Century Fox, as it controlled Sky Italia and 57% of Sky Deutschland. It’s one of those unique Murdoch deals where everyone benefits, but no one benefits more than Murdoch and his clan, which controls 38% of 21st Century Fox via their holding in the voting shares. — Glenn Dyer

A miserable year for magazines. There were only a handful of weekly magazines in this quarterly audit and no good news for anyone, despite claims to the contrary. Every title included saw sales drop over the year to September 30 (the only proper measure). It was another miserable year, underlined by the fact that the best performer in the reporting group was New Idea, which only lost 2.2% of its sales.

Bauer’s Woman’s Day recorded a near 6% drop in weekly sales to 320,398, while the weekly rival, Pacific (Seven West Media) Magazine’s New Idea reported a smaller fall of 2.2%, but much smaller weekly sales of 277,014.  NW, another Bauer title, lost 18.3% of its sales to 76,022, while Pacific’s Who shed 11.7% to average 102,996 in the latest audit. At this rate it will fall below 100,000 copies a week in the next year.

OK, from Bauer, saw a 4.1% slide to 72,024. Take 5, another Bauer title, lost 4.9% to average 166,215 in the September quarter while TV Week, the veteran entertainment mag from Bauer, endured yet another fall, this time of 6.8% in the year to average 145,096. That’s Life, a Pacific title, saw sales drop 4% in the year to September to 194,253. Bauer started Yours in the quarter, which had sales of 61,250.

Pacific’s Famous took a hammering, shedding 18.9% of its sales to 60,211 as gossip and entertainment-based content failed to click with readers.

Quokka, the classifieds-based publication from West Australian Newspapers (Seven West Media), suffered a nasty 29.9% slide in sales in the quarter to average 15,538 copies. Another nasty fall was for lad’s mag (as those in Britain call them) Zoo Weekly, which saw a 27.9% drop in sales to 29,035 copies. — Glenn Dyer

Front page of the day. Brisbane’s Courier Mail doesn’t mess around with its G20 front page.

Peter Fray

Get your first 12 weeks of Crikey for $12.

Without subscribers, Crikey can’t do what it does. Fortunately, our support base is growing.

Every day, Crikey aims to bring new and challenging insights into politics, business, national affairs, media and society. We lift up the rocks that other news media largely ignore. Without your support, more of those rocks – and the secrets beneath them — will remain lodged in the dirt.

Join today and get your first 12 weeks of Crikey for just $12.

 

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

JOIN NOW