7 September 2022

Canberra Weekly company wound up, owing printer $1 million

| Ian Bushnell
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Canberra Weekly

Recent issues of Canberra Weekly. Nick Samaras is still listed as the founder and publisher. Photo: Ian Bushnell.

The company which until recently published the Canberra Weekly magazine owes more than a million dollars to a Sydney printer and an undisclosed amount to the Tax Office.

Newstate Media Pty Ltd, whose director is long-time Canberra media figure and founder and publisher of Canberra Weekly Nick Samaras, went into voluntary liquidation on 15 August, but the business itself was sold beforehand, and the magazine is still being published by a new company called Newstime Media Pty Ltd.

According to company records, Newstime Media was incorporated on 10 June and its ABN was active from 20 June.

According to the report of the meeting of creditors on 15 August, Newstate went into administration on 11 July after IVE Group threatened to wind up the company and its related entities, Newstate Media Newcastle, in pursuit of a $1,050,512 debt.

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Administrator and liquidator Eddie Senatore said in his Declaration of Independence in the report that he had first been contacted by Mr Samaras seeking advice about the company’s situation in May.

Mr Senatore said they had discussed options for ‘safe harbour’ and what would be required to implement such a course.

On 2 June, Mr Samaras received a final notice of demand from IVE Group.

“On the same day, I had further discussion with the Director for the available options to the company, including a voluntary administration and a creditors’ voluntary liquidation,” Mr Senatore said.

“Subsequently, on 28 June 2022, I was approached by the director of the company requesting I present a consent to act as liquidator to the company. I was advised IVE Group has issued a notice of demand to repay the debt due to it or risk a statutory demand be presented against the company.

“I advised the Director there were two options available to place the Company into liquidation – 1) a statutory demand, which IVE Group had advised they were considering, or 2) the appointment of a voluntary administrator.”

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According to the creditors’ meeting report, IVE Group’s proxy General Manager – Print Web Offset Steve Maidens inquired about the value of Newstate but was told there was little in the value of the assets.

The report said IVE Group was seeking legal advice about the sale of the business and had also raised the issue of whether Newstate had traded while insolvent.

Mr Senatore as chairperson advised there may be an insolvent trading claim against Mr Samaras, but preliminary enquiries had found he had limited personal financial capacity to satisfy such a claim.

Mr Senatore told Region that these matters were under investigation and he would not be making any comment.

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According to the Canberra Weekly editorial policy statement, Mr Samaras is listed as a contact – nick@newstimemedia.com.au – while his wife Julie Samaras is the editor.

Mr Samaras exported the Canberra Weekly model to Newcastle, but that venture closed in May this year due to financial pressures and the impact of the pandemic and lockdowns.

He registered a number of titles with Newstate, including daily and weekly mastheads for Canberra, Newcastle and Wollongong.

Canberra Weekly is a give-away magazine found at shopping centres and, in more recent times, a news portal.

A Tax Office spokesperson said the ATO could not comment on the tax affairs of any individual or entity due to its obligations of confidentiality under the law.

Comment was sought from IVE Group and Mr Samaras.

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