Thursday, May 09, 2019

Antony Catalano's challenge -a possible ten time profit but only if he discovers his papers ' local and regional roots

Returning to posting after a gap of almost two months. I want to focus on our media.

With the exception of a few independents, Fairfax and Newscorp ended controlling every press outlet in the broader New England. Once Newscorp came in, access  to their papers fell behind paywalls. Then Fairfax introduced a maximum of five views fro certain regional publications. 

I got totally pissed off. There were three reasons for this. 

One was that people from outside the local area  could no longer access local news about the area they had come from, while the papers had lost their idea of a broader regional role, had become totally local.  

The second was purely personal. I started as a columnist at the end of 2008, I think. That's a long time ago.

I did not get paid in cash.The only reward i got was a subscription to the paper. I wrote for my own reasons. Then with the shift to the Fairfax pay model I lost even that.  I really protested through multiple emails, but could never get a satisfactory response.. Nobody could tell me why I couldn't  have my subscription back. It was just Fairfax rules I guess. Today I was trying to check a past column but could not because I was over my five views.

The third reason? I was totally pissed off because I thought that what Fairfax was doing was simple commercial stupidity. They simply did not understand their market possibilities. This is an issue that I will come back too elsewhere. For the moment, I simply note that a Sydney based enterprise focused on metrics struggles to understand local or regional markets.  

Now that Antony Catalano has taken over Fairfax regional we may have a chance. But what a value loss.  From $3 billion to $115 million including $60 million real estate. From a very profitable business to one that, on reports, is now unprofitable. Mr Catalona  clearly has a challenge in front of him. 

I believe that this is a brilliant deal. I believe that he can make a tenfold return on his investment within ten years. But this will happen if and only if Mr Catalano can ditch the Fairfax legacy and go back to the local and regional roots of his various papers. It may be our last  chance.

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