Fairfax and Rural Press

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Fairfax wants to merge with Rural Press. Does anyone else feel that the upcoming media ownership laws are just going to make the strong – stronger? All the jockeying to date seems to indicate this. In my humble opinion the last thing I would like to buy at a premium would be a newspaper group.
I have not heard of any new companies entering markets, it just seems to me that it is a win win for everyone except consumers – we will just have to wait and see what happens after at least 12 months into the new laws.

Rural Press also own a real estate portal propertyguide, even though it looks great it lacks content in so many areas (many listings have no photos or just on). Only recently have they actually created a system for agents to manage their listings, whereas in the past they just posted up any advertising from their papers.

If Fairfax buys Rural Press it will give them a great deal of presence in the rural areas and probably have a real effect on realestate.com.au as rural press operates many newspapers in areas where they have no competition. This basically means that a Fairfax named group could in effect advertise their products (Domain) in the newspapers much like realestate.com.au do in News Ltd papers.
Tasmania will be a great example as both major newspapers (and really the only ones) in the north of the State are Rural Press owned.

I think the ACCC may block this or at least make the newspapers make a few concessions as they do operate a couple of newspapers in the same area.

So much for diversity!

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1 Comment

  • Robert Simeon
    Posted December 11, 2006 at 8:03 pm 0Likes

    If you asked me this question a few years ago my response would have been who cares. Today, I am of a totally different opinion because today, the key difference is that today …… Fairfax cares. A classic example of out with the old and in with the new. Key changes at management levels have certainly seen their business culture change. Today, they recognise us and now respect us. Yes, we pay for the service and they are delivering better results.

    I have met David Kirk the CEO and James Hooke the managing director NSW and they know their business. Their is no doubting that. What they did do especially Hooke, was to be better educated the real estate business (we are a strange breed) which is exactly what happened. James Hooke, jumped into his car ( a Fairfax management first in my 20+ years) and go face to face with the real estate agents to gather information and industry perspectives about Fairfax. Yes, on many occassions he would have had a red face. However, this information was crucial to bring about the much needed change. You only have to look at how they radically changed their real estate approach with the launch of their mid – week publications and the recent changes to Saturday Domain, which delivers agents/vendors 1.2 million readers each Saturday.

    Now called Fairfax Media, they have opened the lines of communication between print and online as with any media business the two have to work hand in hand to deliver better results to consumers. Our agency like many others too are enjoying a “purple patch” as Mosman enjoys one of their if not their highest readership.

    I believe this sentiment was echoed in interviews by John B. Fairfax over the weekend describing what brought about his change of heart to sell Rural Press to Fairfax Media for $2.8 billion. He obviously likes what he is seeing and hearing which would be attributed to the new regime of management.

    Personally, I see no reason why this sale would be blocked by the ACCC. I am selfish in that their combined products deliver our clients and business results.

    Yes, a few years ago I used to dislike them intensely however, it was Fairfax who changed my opinion of them as they recognised that they as a media business suffered communication problems – quite ironic that.

    The “bugger you Jack – I’m all right” mentality is gone. Which probably explains why their print revenues in real estate are well in the black. Real estate agencies and vendors are enjoying the synergies that their products are now delivering. I use the word now, as in the past they simply did not care. Then we were a number, today we are a respected client.

    It is just not Fairfax, as Cumberland Newspapers and REA are all working much harder on their client relationships. All share a concern that a divorce will mean exactly that. Today, you don’t really get a second chance and any business model that runs by chance is fast coming to the conclusion that this too could apply to their very own business.

    Those ladies and gentlemen are what I see as the ” Fair Facts” !!

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