Post cuts ‘another blow for news publishers’

Apr 15, 2024 at 05:01 pm by admin

New Zealand newspaper publishers say regional titles will be damaged by the withdrawal of some postal deliveries, while in Australia regular daily deliveries are to end.

The News Publishers’ Association said it was “deeply disappointed” in NZ Post’s decision to cancel rural deliveries on Saturdays, describing it as “another blow to New Zealand media in very challenging market conditions”.

NPA public affairs director Andrew Holden said this would severely affect rural communities. “Most regional paid newspapers rely heavily on NZ Post’s delivery services for distributing its key Saturday paper, which is traditionally the biggest and the most important for advertisers.

“Up to a quarter of six-day subscribers in some regional markets receive their paper via NZ Post’s rural delivery.

“Their decision to cease mail and package delivery rurally means some rural subscribers will not get access to their weekend papers. This will result in an overall decline in the provision of news from quality sources, and be yet another financial hit to our media companies.”

Holden says publishers’ costs will increase significantly as they look to minimise the impact on their subscribers. “In addition, rural and isolated community subscribers and readers have not transitioned to digital to the same extent as urban subscribers have, further highlighting the importance of print to those areas.

“Because of the significant reduction in revenue, it is likely that this decision will result in a number of the smaller regional newspapers ceasing print production altogether in the near future, becoming online titles only.

“This will affect all print subscribers and casual buyers of those titles, with the likely consequence being a further reduction of quality news readership.

“That is not a healthy consequence for New Zealand’s wider community, where information from quality news sources is so important with the rise of misinformation.”

The decision comes at the same time as cuts to journalism jobs at Warner Bros. Discovery and TVNZ. “There is no question that New Zealand media is under severe strain at the moment. Losing hundreds of journalism jobs will damage New Zealanders’ shared understanding of their communities, and there will be less scrutiny of those in positions of authority,” he said.

Among ideas to support local media shared with government is to take an amended version of the Fair Digital News Bargaining Bill back to parliament, following a committee report expected in May.

• In Australia, cuts to daily deliveries, “extended delivery schedules” and a 25 per cent in the price of a stamp are causing concern.

Kellie Northwood, chief executive of print industry group Visual Media Association described it at “one further step in a process which at times feels deflating”.

The group would continue to advocate for the societal role of the letterbox “in which the only media able to be delivered into every home, every day is printed pieces”.

Australia Post is being allowed to take longer to deliver standard letters, including between six and eight days for interstate deliveries, and charge “commercial rates” for priority mail. Daily deliveries will continue for parcels and Express Post, with managing director Paul Graham saying Australia Post will be able to focus on “what Australians want most – flexible and more reliable parcel deliveries”. The government owned entity claims four of five households bought something online last year, with 9.5 million receiving a parcel in 2023. Letter volumes, however, are down by two-thirds since peaking in 2008, and expected to halve in five years.

Sections: Print business


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