9 July 2020

Canberra Times' presses likely to be permanently mothballed

| Genevieve Jacobs
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The Canberra Times

The presses may shut down permanently at The Canberra Times as ACM rationalises resources. Photo: File.

The Canberra Times has been named as one of four Australian Community Media sites where printing is likely to cease permanently.

Print production last took place at Fyshwick in April. ACM announced then that operations would be paused for at least two months, at the same time as large numbers of regional newspapers were shelved until the end of June.

Employees associated with printing in Canberra, Murray Bridge, Wodonga and Tamworth were also stood down at the time. They were briefed on Wednesday about the proposed changes, which would end printing operations at four of ACM’s nine national printing sites.

ACM blamed economic challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic which, they said, had affected “not only our own business but many other publishers who utilised ACM’s nine print facilities around the country”.

“With the suspension of these external printing clients along with our own product stand-downs, ACM no longer has the volume of printing to warrant the number of print centres in its stable.”

The statement said that plans to close the printing plants would “remove a heavy cost burden and more importantly remove a capacity that is no longer required by our business”, resulting in what the company believes will be a more sustainable business model.

“The review is designed to ensure that our printing capacity meets the current needs of the business and is the prudent decision to ensure ACM’s ongoing success and its long-term objective of building on its position as Australia’s largest regional media publisher,” the statement said.

The Canberra Times was purchased by former Domain real estate boss Antony Catalano and Thorney Investments last year after the Nine group offloaded regional titles which it described as “non-core businesses”.

At the time, there was speculation that Catalano would be looking to leverage the real estate value of the sites included in the $115 million deal. That could include the current Fyshwick headquarters, valued at around $20 million at the time of the deal.

While the purpose-built premises have been almost deserted during the COVID-19 pandemic, staff numbers had already dropped significantly since the building’s heyday. If the printing presses are mothballed, the rationale for maintaining a large commercial building in a central location would further decline.

While the impact of the ACM closures has been felt widely across the capital region, they’re among many traditional media outlets being forced to make hard decisions about regional printing operations. News Corp Australia suspended its community news titles earlier in the month and Nine ceased printing several magazines.

While many of the paused ACM publications resumed this month, there’s no word on the future of many non-daily rural mastheads. Staff on smaller mastheads were told they were free to pursue other journalism opportunities during the shutdown.

ACM’s CEO Allen Williams told staff said that readers and advertisers were increasingly moving to digital, reducing the demand for print capacity and motivating the realignment of resources.

There are no details yet about proposed closing dates for individual sites.

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Print version become too expensive and a waste of money some time ago

A local paper that has a rabidly biased weekly column from a once amusing but now worn out journalist who intentionally and regularly insults and demeans it’s readers is bound to lose patronage.

The paper is still going to be made.

Capital Retro8:12 am 12 Jul 20

I don’t know who is going to read it then JC.

I suppose the hardcore lefties and self-appointed experts who contribute almost daily to the Letters to The Editor section and like to see their names in print still will but a lot of us have simply had enough – it’s the same stuff, same people day in day out.

It’s sad really, because until they find away to keep breakfast toast crumbs out of keyboards I am not going to buy and electronic subscription either.

HiddenDragon7:32 pm 10 Jul 20

“If the printing presses are mothballed, the rationale for maintaining a large commercial building in a central location would further decline.”

A serious down-sizing of the CT’s physical presence could see some important archival materials up for grabs – which would hopefully find good new homes in local institutions.

There might also be some choice items of Canberriana – a story (albeit second or third hand) has it that the CT collection includes a copy of the Official Programme – signed by the PM and all Ministers, and Nellie Melba – for the 1927 opening of the then new Parliament House.

Learn to code

Capital Retro6:46 pm 09 Jul 20

Where is the paper version printed now? It must be out of Canberra because NRL games played in the evenings are not covered anymore, instead a suggestion where the printed story should be that we should go online.

Overall, now there is too much sport, opinion and not enough news.

It appears The Canberra Times is printed at North Richmond, along with the Newcastle Herald and the Illawarra Mercury.

Yes, where is it being printed now? Anyone know?

Capital Retro3:44 pm 10 Jul 20

Thanks for that. Rural Press ( were part of Fairfax Media) used to own the Canberra Times and they are based in Richmond NSW.

Does anybody know where the sub-editors are based? Someone told me that they were in New Zealand (under contract) and |I guess that is possible because good old Access Canberra use a customer service call-centre in New Zealand.

I only feel sorry for the staff. The stain of left-wing bias of former editors, matched only by the ABC, left the CT irrelevant long before the digital age.

Because only media with a right-wing bias is acceptable?

And let’s not even get in the ABC bias furphy. Mind you, in the world of the RWNJ “left-wing bias” is anything up to and including Genghis Khan.

The CT died for me when it put up a paywall. The local content was the only reason to read it and that wasn’t worth $$. As far as the ABC goes, generally it’s excellent and tends to avoid sensationalism and the clickbait funding model employed by MSM. That said its position politically is clearly closer to Lenore Taylor than Andrew Bolt….

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