Australia's media landscape has been rocked for a second time this week with News Limited announcing a massive restructuring of the way it delivers news.
The announcement on Wednesday, which included job cuts and a reduction in east coast operations from 19 divisions to five, came days after to axe 1,900 staff, close two major printing presses and downsize its flagship newspapers to tabloids.
Despite the cuts, News Limited CEO Kim Williams has told staff that the organisation remains committed to print.
Key announcements from Mr Williams: Unknown number of redundancies One city, one newsroom strategy 19 divisions to be reduced to five Company remains committed to print Methode publishing system brought in for print and online Takeover offer for Consolidated Media Holdings Purchase of Business Spectator, Eureka Report Mr Williams has told PM he cannot say how many jobs will go at this stage.
"As we go through our transformation program, as I spelt out in my detailed presentation to our staff today, we will progressively be very transparent with our workforce about the numbers and the impact," he said.
"But where ever possible we are going to manage our transformation through natural attrition." News Limited has also made a , in an attempt to increase its pay TV stake.
Consolidated Media owns 25 per cent of Foxtel and 50 per cent of Fox Sports Australia, a producer of subscription sports TV channels.
Mr Packer has welcomed News Limited's offer of $3.50 a share.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission says it has begun a review of the move, which would see News gain complete ownership of Fox Sports Australia and 50 per cent of Foxtel.
Take a look back at our coverage of News Limited's announcement on Wednesday and the fallout: 9:30: Kim Williams discusses today's announcement with 7.30's Leigh Sales: 7:00: Kim Williams spoke to Mark Colvin on about his plans for the future of the company, once again refusing to estimate a number of job losses that would come from the changes: "In what way does making an announcement on a number, which I might add that I do not have, in what way would that profit anyone?" "In what way would it make them wiser? In what way would it give them personal security in relation to their job? "As we go through our transformation program...
we will progressively be very transparent with our workforce about the numbers and impacts." In the often-heated interview, Mr Williams also dismissed claims the change signalled a move by News Limited away from newspapers: "In 2020 I'm very confident that we'll be producing very fine newspapers and they will be being consumed very actively across the length and breadth of Australia." "We sell over 11 million newspapers each and every week.
We reach over 14 million readers on a weekly basis on average.
"There seems to be some kind of dramatic desire on the part of some media organisations or media commentators to call the death of print because it amuses them to do so." The News Limited CEO said his company represents a focus on quality over the delivery: "There's going to be a very mixed media model as we go forward." "The important thing is to listen to consumers and respond to consumers in appropriate and relevant ways and to ensure the quality of content of is something they wish, and is something that is actually worth paying for.
"The future of journalism is about investing in the quality of journalism itself, and in making it pervasively available." He used the example of Queensland to explain how the new one city, one newsroom strategy will work: "For example in Queensland we will have common inputs accessible to the editors and their writing teams, from Cairns, Townsville, the Gold Coast, and Brisbane, producing stories that are of local relevance in the own markets." "And stories that are of state relevance will be produced where the geographical location of the stories is, and national stories will be available in general form." And in news that will relieve Alan Kohler's fans, Mr Williams says he does not anticipate the News Limited purchase of AIBM to affect Mr Kohler's role in the ABC: "Alan and I have discussed him continuing on the ABC and I've indicated to him that I'm entirely relaxed about that." "He obviously has an audience relationship on the ABC, and does a much-watched and much-celebrated piece on the ABC on Sundays and also with the news, and I'm not trying to interfere in those arrangements." 6:26: The ABC Matt Peacock dissects the day's events for PM: 6:10: Watch Alan Kohler discuss his decision to sell his AIBM company, which comprises the Eureka Report and Business Spectator, to News Limited: 5:27: Paul Murphy from the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance says he is glad News Limited wants to continue its tradition in print journalism, but he is still worried about employees' job security: "The concerns we have are concerns we've expressed over recent weeks about the scale of redundancies that might result from this announcement, and the implementation of the editorial changes that are flagged in it." "One city, one newsroom - while it has a logic to it, obviously it has the potential to have a serious impact on jobs." 5:10: Alan Kohler is on ABC News 24 about News Limited's acquisition of his AIBM company.
"I'll be able to work at the ABC while working at News Limited..
No worries." 5:00: The ACCC says it is reviewing News Corp's takeover offer for Consolidated Media Holdings.
It is seeking submissions from interested parties over the deal and says it is expected to reveal its decision on August 2.
4:50: Watch business editor Peter Ryan's analysis of the News Limited shake-up: 4:30: Consolidated Media shares surged 9.7 per cent to close at $3.38 and News Corporation shares finished 0.6 per cent higher at $20.15.
4:05: Alan Kohler explains why he and his business partners sold AIBM to News Limited: "When I started Eureka Report seven years ago it was with the aim of building an independent voice for Australian investors â to both defend and inform them." "When Robert Gottliebsen, Steve Barthomoleusz and I started Business Spectator four and a half years ago it was with a similar aim for the nationâs business people.
We called our company Australian Independent Business Media.
"Today AIBM is joining the News Corporation stable for the simple reason that this is the best way for us to continue our mission.
"We remain passionately independent of commercial interests, but being part of a global media company will give us the support and resources to grow the business and better serve all of our customers, both readers and advertisers.
"More than that: through many months of negotiation and discussion, weâve come to a clear view that, within Australia and probably globally, News Corporation has the best understanding of the changes taking place in the media and the most coherent strategy for dealing with them.
"Bob, Steve and I, as well as all of the senior managers in AIBM, have signed up to News Ltd on long-term contracts.
"We are excited about our new future.
AIBM will remain independent and its existing culture will be preserved.
Business Spectator, Eureka Report, Climate Spectator and Technology " "Spectator will continue to provide their audiences with the best analysis and commentary on business and investment issues in Australia.
"And most importantly, the business will grow â weâll be launching new Spectators and new additions to Eureka Report to better serve Australian readers.
"Finally, I want to thank you, our readers, for your support over the past four and a half years.
We love our close and vigorous relationship with you, and we look forward to continuing it for many years to come." 3:57: John Tanner is a graphic designer for News Limited.
He says it's hard to blame management, but thinks there could be better communication with staff.
"I'm not the one managing a major media company.
I suppose I can't tell them how to do their jobs but communication's never brilliant in terms of what's coming up.
It's just hard to predict.
But if you thought, 'that's my career for the next five or 10 years', then you probably shouldn't think that." 3:52: If you missed it, here's News Ltd boss Kim Williams' video message to staff: 3:25: ABC business editor Peter Ryan says the announcement amounts to a huge cultural shift towards a centralised publishing model: "This cultural change has been under way ever since John Hartigan stepped down as chief executive and Kim Williams moved over from Foxtel." "Kim Williams is an entirely different operator from John Hartigan.
John Hartigan, is the traditional Murdoch disciple, newspaper man, while Kim Williams is the digital entertainment man.
"They've been told keep those maintain those local identities, that is how newspapers are sold.
But as far as the commissioning of national stories or international stories, that will come from a centralised desk." What's more it won't just be traditional newspaper publishing, the digital arm will become part of everything they do, and up until now digital has been one company inside the organisation in competition against traditional publishing, so it's bringing the silos together." 2:55: Ean Higgins, a journalist at The Australian, says some staff do understand that the company needs to change the way it delivers news: "I think you know people are still going to be worried about their jobs obviously because we don't know who or when." "But I think there's an appreciation among a lot of staff, maybe not all of them, that there's some need to move with the times to avoid a situation that you get in to at Fairfax - that all off a sudden you have to knock 2,000 people off." 2:45: Mark Colvin will interview Kim Williams on the ABC's PM progam, airing at 6:00pm nationally on local radio or .
2:10: Below is a list of the key points of Kim Williams' address to News Limited staff: Unknown number of redundancies One city, one newsroom strategy 19 divisions to be reduced to five CEO says company remains committed to print Methode publishing system brought in for print and online Takeover offer for Consolidated Media Holdings Purchase of Business Spectator, Eureka Report 2:05: News Limited CEO Kim Williams has addressed staff at the organisation outlining his vision and plan for the future: "We will adopt a one city, one newsroom strategy with a focus on producing the best quality local content essential to meeting our new challenges." "This single newsroom concept will transform our existing metro newsrooms.
"It will unlock the rival knowledge and connections.
It will give us local strength which cannot be matched by any other news organisation in Australia Mr Williams confirms News Limited has acquired Australian Independent Business Media: "I'm pleased to advise you we have acquired Australian independent business media which publishes Business Spectator and the Eureka Report." "In just 7 years AIBM has become Australia's number one pure online business and investment publisher.
"It eclipsed its nearest rival just a couple of weeks ago.
Its success has come from creating a high value digital product that delivers in spades what its audience wants." The News Limited CEO says while they can not say how many jobs will be lost there will redundancies: "We cannot say today how many positions will be made redundant as it will take time to roll out the new model.
"I will make sure we communicate openly with those affected and that at all times people are treated with respect and dignity.
"Whilst there will be retrenchments many positions will be retired through natural attrition.
Naturally, where any position is made redundant the person affected will receive all their entitlements." Mr Williams says the new publishing system will streamline production: "In the introduction I said that our vision is to put innovation at our heart.
To harness innovation, that great engine of future growth and excitement for customers and our company, we are taking many necessary actions.
I announced the huge investment in the new Eidos (Methode) editorial system in April." "This will liberate us to create once, publish many times to the devices and products consumers want." 1:35: The ABC's Phillip Lasker takes a look at News Limited's bid for Consolidated Media and the ongoing speculation about the News Limited restructuring: 1:25: ABC News 24 will be Kim Williams announcement on the News Limited shake-up from 2:00pm (AEST).
1:10: On the back of News Limited's $1.97 billion offer, shares in Consolidated Media have risen 30 cents to $3.38.
1:05: Opposition Leader Tony Abbott says he does not want to give advice to media organisations about takeovers or ownership: "It is very important for media organisations to be profitable.
The traditional news media obviously has a serious challenge on its hands from online media and I'm not going to get into the business of telling the different news organisations how they should run themselves." 12:50: Damon Kitney writes in an online piece for the Australian that News Limited is reducing its eastern seaboard operations from 19 to five: "News chief executive Kim Williams briefed senior staff this morning on the changes, which will take between 18 and 24 months to implement.
"The remaining divisions will be News NSW, News Qld, News Victoria, The Australian and NewsLifeMedia, the company formerly known as News Magazine.
"Mr Williams declined to put a number on redundancies across the group, although he hoped much of the staff reduction could be attained through natural attrition." But Mr Williams told staff that the organisation remained committed to print: "We believe in print and are committed to print.
We are obviously not going to be pollyannas about that.
But we still sell around 11 million newspapers a week.
Advertisers still find huge value in print." 12:25: Opposition communications spokesman in Sydney this morning that he is concerned about the decline of newspapers: "I've got no hang ups or sentimentality about paper and printed things.Â My concern is that they have been the great foundations of journalism and the biggest institutional sources of news and journalistic work, the biggest organs in that media area.
And of course as they decline, what takes their place?Â " Mr Turnbull goes on to say that with the current turmoil in Australian media, the ABC has an even more important role to play.
12:20: If News Limited's buy-up of Consolidated Media is approved James Packer's hold on Australian media would be severely diminished, leaving him with just 6.9 per cent of Ten Network.
But the deal would to pour into his battle to gain control of Echo Entertainment, which owns Sydney's The Star casino.
12:15: Leigh Sales will speak to News Limited CEO Kim Williams tonight on ABC1's 7:30.
11:50: As News Limited prepares to announce job cuts, its parent company continues to come under fire in the UK over allegations of phone hacking.
The UK's Leveson inquiry into media ethics has already grilled top News Corp executives, including Rupert Murdoch, about their relationships with politicians.
, commentator Chris Berg labels Leveson a farce: "The phone-hacking affair no longer has anything to do with phone-hacking.
It's trying to make scandals out of the basic practices of representative democracy.
"Politicians cultivate relationships with journalists.
They have to, if they want to achieve their political and policy goals.
That might seem distasteful.
We all share a romantic ideal about the fourth estate being implacably at odds with the first estate.
But let's not be too delicate.
Democracy is about coalition-building.
Journalists and editors are stakeholders.
A politician that does not make friends in the media will not be a very successful politician." 11:40: Coming up on ABC Radio's The World Today, business editor Peter Ryan will have the latest on what is expected in this afternoon's announcement.
You can listen live from 12:10pm.
11:32: Some News Limited journos say they've been warned not to forward on details of this afternoon's announcement.
11:15: Tony Abbott on News Ltd's takeover bid for Consolidated Media: "It's good to see that at least some news operations are confident and optimistic about the future" - via .
11:10: News Limited staff have been told the video message from CEO Kim Williams will automatically pop-up on their screens at 1:45pm.
The announcement should give them a better idea of their fate, with predictions that hundreds of jobs will go.
News Ltd's senior editors are said to now be in lock-down in the company's Holt St offices in Sydney.
11:06: James Packer has released a statement welcoming News Limited's bid for Consolidated Media: "CPH welcomes News' proposal and looks forward to CMH and News working together to address the detailed terms and conditions.
"Subject to this CPH, considering the offer price of $3.50 per share to be fair, will support the proposal in the absence of a superior cash offer." 11:03: The ABC's tweets "Consolidated Media shares are trading 11% higher following takeover bid from News Limited".
11:00: ABC business editor Peter Ryan about this week's shake-up of Australia's newspaper industry: "The third biggest holder of Fairfax stock is warning that the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age could be closed if the restructure announced on Monday fails to turn the company around.
"The funds management group Allan Gray, which holds a 9 per cent stake, says Fairfax might be forced to sacrifice its metropolitan mastheads to focus on the more profitable rural publishing and digital businesses." 10:45: the News Limited announcement will be made at 1:45pm this afternoon.
An email was apparently sent to staff this morning saying that News chief executive Kim Williams would then give a staff briefing via video: "A video message from Kim will be made available outlining what this vision is and how we, as a company, will transform to embrace opportunities the dynamic media landscape presents.
"Today, our CEO Kim Williams will be sharing with you his vision for News as the company embarks on its next phase of growth." 10:38: Plenty of The Australian's Media journos are giving their thoughts on Twitter.
Nic Christensen () hints at what's to come: "This morning I woke up thinking I worked for a newspaper company, come this afternoon...
10:28: News Limited confirms bid for Consolidated Media Holdings: "News confirms it has put a conditional proposal to Consolidated Media, which, if implemented, would result in News acquiring 100% of Consolidated Media at a cost of approximately A$1.97 billion.
"If the proposal is implemented, News would double its stakes in Australia's leading pay television businesses, FOX Sports Australia and FOXTEL, to 100% and 50% respectively." 10:19: Senior media writer for The Australian, Amanda Meade ( tweets of snappers outside the News Limited's Sydney offices waiting for the "imminent" announcement.
10:15: Meanwhile, take a look at last night's 7:30 report examining the backlash against Gina Rinehart's move to up her stakes in Fairfax: 10:07: ABC News Online's chief political correspondent tweets that if News Limited's bid for Consolidated Media is successful "it would own 100% of FOX Sports Aust, and 50% of Foxtel".
10:00: ABC business editor Peter Ryan says News Limited is expected to announce its restructure this afternoon, which could see as many as 1,000 staff made redundant.
He says a key feature of the shake-up will be the $30 million acquisition of the highly successful Business Spectator and Eureka Report websites founded by former Fairfax editor and ABC identity Alan Kohler.
Peter Ryan also examines the continuing fallout from the Fairfax announcement: 9:58: that James Packer is supporting News Limited's bid for Consolidated Media.
9:52: "News Limited has now also notified the ASX of its bid to take over Consolidated Media.
News says the bid is valued at $1.97b." 9:49: News Ltd's move to purchase Consolidated Media Holdings is 9:45: "News Ltd has offered $3.50 a share for ConsMedia".
9:30: Reports that News Limited has told the ASX it intends to buy James Packer's stake in Consolidated Media Holdings.
It is also believed that News Ltd will announce it has bought the business news website Business Spectator, run by ABC financial reporter Alan Kohler.
Earlier: Writing in News Limited's flagship The Australian on Monday, what was likely: "News Limited, publisher of The Australian, plans this week to unveil details of the wide-ranging corporate restructure it first flagged in February, with chief executive Kim Williams and group editorial director Campbell Reid expected to hold a series of briefing meetings around the country, which will be followed by a public announcement at some point.
"Details of the transformation program, anxiously awaited by News employees, were tipped to be released weeks ago but were delayed several times as the company finalised the changes, which include introduction of seven-day rosters for its capital city newspapers, streamlining of its production, digital and printing operations and hundreds of redundancies."