March 20, 2023

Murdoch Shakes Up News Corp.’s Australian Operation

Mr. Murdoch named a former newspaper executive, Julian Clarke, to run News Corp. Australia, the country’s dominant newspaper publisher, replacing the former pay-television boss, Kim Williams, who announced his retirement after less than two years in the top job.

“I want to thank him for his unwavering commitment and the blood, sweat and tears he has put into News Corp. Australia,” Mr. Murdoch said in a statement on Mr. Williams’s retirement.

Some media analysts said the change of executives was more likely to be linked to the split of News Corp. into its entertainment and publishing units earlier this year, than to politics and the heated election campaign., a news Web site, said there had been internal unrest in News Corp. Australia over Mr. Williams’s cost-cutting and structural changes and relief in newsrooms at his departure.

Paul Xiradis, managing director at Ausbil Dexia, the biggest investment management shareholder in News Corp.’s Australian-listed shares, also said Mr. Williams’s departure was more likely about business.

Leading up to the News Corp. split, “there was a fair bit of work involved in that. But now implementing the ongoing strategy, maybe he wasn’t committed there full-time,” Mr. Xiradis said, referring to Mr. Williams.

Mr. Rudd said Friday that the shakeout had come after Mr. Murdoch sent a key lieutenant, Col Allan, from New York to Australia to increase attacks on his government and its high-speed broadband plan — projected to cost 38 billion Australian dollars, or $35 billion — before the Sept. 7 election.

“The message delivered very clearly to them was ‘go hard on Rudd. Start from Sunday and don’t back off,”’ Mr. Rudd said.

Margaret Simons, a media analyst at Melbourne University, said News Corp. had long been against the Labor government under both Mr. Rudd and his predecessor, Julia Gillard.

“Col Allan’s arrival was crucial,” she said. “I’m hearing Col Allan was sent to report back on how Kim Williams was leading the local operation. When I heard he was arriving, it was clear it couldn’t possibly be good for Kim.”

News Corp. did not respond to requests for comment on Mr. Rudd’s allegations. But there is no question that the Murdoch-controlled media outlets in Australia want Mr. Rudd defeated in the September elections.

The leading Sydney newspaper, The Daily Telegraph, on Monday ran a front-page headline saying, “Kick this mob out” over a photo of Mr. Rudd on the first day of an election campaign.

Mr. Murdoch’s main daily in the state of Queensland on Friday continued the anti-government campaign, with the front page headline “Send in the clown” over a photograph of Mr. Rudd and his surprise candidate for a key seat, a former popular state premier, Peter Beattie.

Article source:

Media Decoder Blog: Newspaper Publisher Files for Bankruptcy

The Journal Register Company, whose newspapers include The New Haven Register and The Trentonian, has again filed for bankruptcy protection and hopes for a quick sale, said Digital First Media, which operates the company along with the MediaNews Group.

The Chapter 11 filing announced Wednesday comes three years after Journal Register emerged from a prior bankruptcy case.

Newspaper’s Digital Apostle

In this profile from last year, John Paton, the chief executive of Digital First Media, which operates the Journal Register Company, argued that newspapers had to move quickly to digital from print.

Digital First Media says it expects normal operations to continue during the sales process. Journal Register would be sold at auction, it said, and had signed a stalking horse bid from an affiliate of Alden Global Capital.

The chief executive of Digital First, John Paton, said Journal Register had more than doubled its digital audience in the last two years. But he said the company was still struggling with print advertising and legacy costs.

Journal Register operates news and media operations in 10 states.

In making the announcement, the company sent an e-mail to the staff, which follows below:

E-Mail to the Staff

Today Digital First Media announced Journal Register Company has filed
for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and will seek to implement a prompt sale.

We expect the auction and sale process to take about 90 days, and I am
pleased to tell you the company has a signed stalking horse bid for
Journal Register Company from 21st CMH Acquisition Company, an affiliate
of funds managed by Alden Global Capital L.L.C.

So why file Chapter 11?

The company exited the 2009 restructuring with approximately $225
million in debt and with a legacy cost structure, which includes
leases, defined benefit pensions and other liabilities that are now
unsustainable and threaten the company’s efforts for a successful
digital transformation.

From 2009 through 2011, digital revenue grew 235 percent and digital audience
more than doubled at Journal Register Company. So far this year,
digital revenue is up 32.5 percent. Expenses by year’s end will be down more
than 9.7 percent compared to 2009.

At the same time, as total expenses were down overall, the Company has
invested heavily in digital with digital expenses up 151 percent since 2009.
Journal Register Company has and will continue to invest in the

But also from 2009 to 2011 Journal Register Company’s print
advertising revenue declined 19 percent and print advertising represents more
than half of the company’s revenues. Print advertising for the
newspaper industry declined approximately 17 percent over the same time
period, according to the Newspaper Association of America. As well,
both print circulation and circulation revenue have also declined over
the same time period.

Since 2009, printing facilities have been reduced from 14 to 6; 9 of
the 50 owned facilities have been sold and 8 distribution centers have
been outsourced.

During the same time period, debt was reduced by 28 percent with the company
currently servicing in excess of $160 million of debt.

All of the digital initiatives and expense efforts are consistent with
the company’s Digital First strategy and while the Journal Register
Company cannot afford to halt its investments in its digital future it
can now no longer afford the legacy obligations incurred in the past.

Many of those obligations, such as leases, were entered into in the
past when revenues, at their peak, were nearly twice as big as they
are today and are no longer sustainable. Revenues in 2005 were about
two times bigger than projected 2012 revenues. Defined Benefit Pension
underfunding liabilities have grown 52 percent since 2009.

After a lot of thought, the board of directors concluded a Chapter 11
filing was the best course of action.

Journal Register Company’s filing will have no impact on the
day-to-day operation of Journal Register Company, Digital First Media
or MediaNews Group during the sale process. They will continue to
operate their business and roll out new initiatives.

If you have questions just ask ­ you know how to reach me.

I know this announcement will leave you with questions ­ ask. Your
managers, I and any member of senior leadership at Digital First Media
will be available to answer.

And while I get this news may make some of you nervous, don’t let it.
Concentrate on the job at hand and we will work through this. This
really is the right decision for Journal Register Company.

Article source: