Jan 9, 2017

How getting rid of the weekday SMH and Age papers could kill the AFR

The economics of printing the Financial Review five days a week make a lot less sense if it can't piggyback off the SMH and Age.

Glenn Dyer — <em>Crikey</em> business and media commentator

Glenn Dyer

Crikey business and media commentator

Fairfax can’t kill the weekday Sydney Morning Herald and Age without undermining the chances of The Australian Financial Review surviving as an independent Monday-to-Friday paper. In recent weeks, the problems of distributing the AFR as the sole major daily paper in the Fairfax stable have emerged as a key hurdle in discussions about how to move away from weekday printing for the metros, according to well-placed sources.

If a solution is not found, any reduction in the printing schedules of the SMH and Age could have dire implications for the Fin. Its paper circulation is effectively subsidised by the production and distribution of the two metro papers. Without that underwriting, the AFR’s profitability is far reduced. With Fairfax said to want to keep weekend editions of The Age and the SMH, it would be cheaper for the company to close the Monday-to-Friday editions of the AFR and continue with the loss-making weekend edition, which would still have most of its production and distribution costs covered. Internal estimates suggest the distribution costs account for 30% to 40% of the AFR’s daily production costs on a standalone basis. Without the internal subsidy, the AFR could have to be closed, or sold.

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5 thoughts on “How getting rid of the weekday SMH and Age papers could kill the AFR

  1. AR

    Sorry but, apart from the comix & puzzles, the dead tree SMH (and I assume, therefore, the Age) has no function.

  2. Gavin Moodie

    Why would Fairfax be anxious to keep the Australian Financial Review as an independent Monday-to-Friday paper if it needs so much subsidy?

  3. Xoanon

    You wrote: “Saved would be the weekday editions”.

    I think you mean: “Saved would be the weekend editions”.

  4. John Quiggin

    Am I missing something? Why not convert the AFR to digital only as well?

    1. Gavin Moodie

      Does the Australian Financial Review carry a lot of print ads, or p’haps its readers are less ‘digital’ than the rest of us?

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