- News service Australian Associated Press is set for new ownership as a purchase agreement with Foxtel CEO Peter Tonagh and a consortium of philanthropists and investors enters the final stages of negotiation.
- The sale is for the news division of AAP which reports on general news, finance, the courts, politics and sport.
- Up to 90 employees will work at the new AAP.
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National news service Australian Associated Press (AAP) has received a lifeline.
AAP's board confirmed on Friday that a deal is in its last stages of negotiation with a consortium of investors and philanthropists led by former Foxtel CEO Peter Tonagh.
The sale relates to the newswire of AAP which reports on general news, courts, politics, finance and sport, as well as images and video. The other parts of AAP such as Medianet, Mediaverse and AAP Directories will be held by current shareholders and will operate as usual. The FactCheck service will also continue.
AAP – which is currently owned by Australian Community Media, Nine, News Corp Australia and The West Australian – was set to close on June 26 as it struggled to survive in a changing marketplace.
Its closure would have meant losing up to 500 jobs and an end to an 85-year long history of covering major news stories.
"I am pleased that, after months of discussions with various parties, it appears we have been able to secure a new home for AAP’s legacy of trusted news," AAP CEO Bruce Davidson said in a statement.
In a statement, Tonagh highlighted the consortium's commitment to independent journalism.
"We live in a time where trusted, unbiased news is more important than ever. AAP has always delivered on that and we are committed to seeing that continue into the future," he said. "I’m looking forward to working with the AAP team to continue its great work and to find new commercial opportunities to ensure its long-term survival."
With the consortium on board, the new AAP will take on 85-90 employees, with up to 75 of them in editorial roles as well as management, IT and support staff. A number of jobs are expected to be lost, as the newly focused project will not employ the same number of journalists, photographers and producers.
Editor in Chief Tony Gillies considered this news a win for public interest journalism.
"In the 95 days since the original March 3 closure announcement our journalists, photographers and editors have endured the anxiety of an uncertain future and the difficulties of the Covid-19 lockdown," he said in a statement. "And yet, they have been professional without exception, working as hard as ever.
"Their poise and resilience has been inspiring. The consortium is taking on Australia’s best."