Fairfax has said it will not stop printing weekday metropolitan newspapers this year.
A spokesperson from Fairfax tells AdNews the publisher is years away from moving towards a print-reduced strategy.
The comments follow a report in The Australian that Credit Suisse issued a note advising it expects Fairfax to “lay down a specific timetable” for the digital transition and that “Credit Suisse analyst Fraser McLeish predicted a flurry of deal-making at Fairfax this year to 'significantly reduce print exposure', following the news that The New York Times is opening in Australia.
While Fairfax has previously spoken about future plans to cull its weekday editions in favour while retaining the more profitable weekend papers, it maintains this move will not occur this year ands there is plenty of life in its print assets.
“We have no plans to change from daily printing and we expect that to be the case for some years into the future,” Fairfax says.
Last year Fairfax CEO Greg Hywood said closing weekday titles was part of the long-term strategy to adapt to changing consumer behaviours, but there was a “long life” for print.
Cutting the daily print runs of titles such as The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age would reduce production costs, but also print advertising inventory, which typically fetches a higher yield than online.
The problem faced by Fairfax and many other publishers is that eroding print circulations makes newspapers less appealing to advertisers, particularly as readerships continue to transition away from print to online. This migration away from print has hit weekday editions much harder than bulked up weekend papers.
However, Fairfax still has a long way to go with the testing of payment models and revenue streams for its online assets before it can consider cutting off print revenue for a pure online play.
Most recently it has been testing various micropayment models and paywalls on the sites of local titles, as well as analysing what content best works for advertisers on the Sydney Morning Herald. It also launched a luxury e-commerce store at the end of 2016.
AdNews understands that Fairfax will continue to trial different paywall models across more of its titles this year.
Fairfax’s future digital strategy is in contrast to rival News Corp - the publisher of The Australian. News Corp has told the market it continues to place print at the core of its business.
UPDATE (30.01.16): This story was edited to clarify that The Australian had not suggested closures would be this year, but that Credit Suisse had noted Fairfax would likely outline its time frame for future print closure in 2017.
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