Fairfax has been sending demands to newsagents to post headline posters outside their businesses. Newsagents say it’s a desperate bid to increase sales for the media giant.

Director of newsagency marketing group NewsXpress Mark Fletcher said on his blog it was a “heavy-handed” approach that would do nothing to increase sales, and it could even discourage agents from stocking Fairfax titles including The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and the Australian Financial Review.

Newsagents are required under their contracts with Fairfax to display posters outside if there is room, or in the window or inside the store.

Fletcher said newspapers were of “declining interest” to shoppers, and newsagents made little return from them.

“Do we need newspaper traffic in our businesses to survive? I don’t think so,” Fletcher wrote. “Newspapers are nowhere near as important today as they were ten years ago.”

He said newsagencies were closing, in part, due to less foot traffic for print media. 

“You can’t fix that by being a tougher cop,” Fletcher wrote. “Lead by example, clean up your product, make it more compelling.”

Fairfax said in a statement to Crikey the letters were a reminder of the newsagents’ contractual obligations.

“We really value our working relationships with newsagents. We were simply reminding them of agreed contractual obligations. Nothing more, nothing less.”

Last week Fairfax outlined an editorial plan to cut $30 million from its annual budget to try to keep its newspapers afloat. — Emily Watkins

Peter Fray

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