News Corp Australasia executive chairman Michael Miller spoke at the Melbourne Press Club earlier this week about the challenges facing the media sector.
Here are some of the highlights:
While we can justifiably blame technology, society’s changes, piracy, global players, government and legislation for our current dire state, we must assume some of the blame ourselves.
The fact is: less is being invested in Australian content across all mediums, and the challenge of producing great content is harder to meet; we are primarily domestically oriented, focused on our traditional competitive share rather than investing regionally for growth; while at the same time, reducing the marketing and promotion of our brands and our talent.
We have also given our unique journalism away for free – to both consumers and our new competitors.
It is a cruel irony that here we are, organisations who invest in journalism and support the creation of unique, local content for Australian audiences, in the fight of our lives against international players – who, despite their scale, lack our local commitment, influence and impact.
At News Corp, we have four clear priorities.
Our first step is to move from a diversified media company to a unified media company. We need greater internal cooperation to deliver better outcomes for our customers, our audiences, our staff, and our portfolio of businesses.
An example of the benefits of that cooperation is already seen between The Australian, the Wall St Journal and Sky News Business. Ticky Fullerton now sits alongside the WSJ team, ensuring we maximise our quality resources to deliver world-class content.
It is why we created Food Corp, a united network of our food titles such as delicious, Donna Hay and taste, to deliver multibrand solutions to advertisers. Or created whimn.com.au, a single destination for news, opinion and lifestyle advice and debate for a female audience.
We are taking the same network approach to property, sport and travel.
This internal collaboration creates a more attractive scale proposition for our commercial partners to effectively communicate their messages.
Our second priority is our unwavering commitment to create unique, high value, local journalism, journalism that holds governments to account, shines a light on public service incompetence and campaigns for better health and transport services for communities.
What we do is uniquely local, and is not readily replicated or replaced. We expose ministerial travel rorts and interrogate the issue of spiralling youth crime gangs on Melbourne streets.
When a siege hits this city, we are there, providing the essential information to a confused and frightened population, just as we were there 86 years ago for the Good Friday Appeal, raising much needed funds for the Royal Children’s Hospital.
We champion, we challenge and we care.
Providing local news and local voices essential for a vibrant media and an informed community, our commitment to journalism is also why we acquired and invested in Sky News – a team that provides must-watch analysis, news and commentary on local politics and is on the ground where Australians live, work and play. And it’s working.
Sky News Live is now the highest-ranking channel in our history. The weekday primetime audience Jan-Jan 2017 is 25% higher than the first half of 2016. Paul Murray Live is now the highest-rating Foxtel show in that timeslot and his weekly audience has grown 44% in the past 12 months.
Our third priority is growing consumer revenues, with a focus on subscriptions. We know that more people are paying for content than ever before. We know that our unique and trusted journalism is what our audiences want, and we know they are willing to pay for it.
We believe that quality, unique journalism and opinion should be paid for – we should never have given it away. Our numbers reflect that belief – The Australian’s consumer revenue from subscriptions is now greater than advertising revenue. Digital subscriptions are now greater than print subscriptions for that title.
Publishers in the US are experiencing a resurgence in newspaper audiences, thanks to the Trump Bump. People are putting their faith in the trusted brands that matter – brands with authority, expertise and credibility. Revenue for our journalism is key for growing our revenues.
Our fourth priority, and to better compete with the new media players, is operating smarter. We need to use the unique data that’s available to us. The data we have enables us to publish the relevant content that best meets our audience, and the individual’s interests. This leads to journalism we can monetise.
The shape and strength of the Australian media’s future rests in our hands. As an industry, we also need clear priorities as we enter the new era of media opportunity. We need a unity of purpose.
To me, there are five clear industry priorities. We need to:
• Cooperate as a unified media
• Support our own local industry
• Invest in more content and journalism
• Operate smarter by using data
• Speak with one voice about media reform
Read the full text of the speech here, or watch the video below.