|Fairfax Media chief executive Greg Hywood has made a spirited defence of his company, calling it "an extraordinary success story" trading in a "very nasty" business environment. Mr Hywood also said continuing rumours of a possible sale of the Fairfax radio network were wrong. The sale was off the agenda, and the company now planned to integrate the stations with its lifestyle websites and print publications.
In an interview with The Australian to mark his first year in the job, Mr Hywood outlined a digital-first strategy for Fairfax which he said was already working. But the results were not showing up because "it's as nasty a market out there as we have seen in my lifetime in the business".
In The Australian interview, Mr Hywood said:
- Fairfax wanted to buy digital companies, particularly transactional businesses.
- the company had driven up the price of online advertising, with yields for internet advertising up 16 per cent, against a 2 per cent rise in print.
- newspapers would become a legacy part of a company focused on digital distribution -- more targeted to older readers and higher-priced. "The days of mass distribution are over," he said.
- there were 50,000 regular tablet users from 300,000 downloads of a Sydney Morning Herald and Age iPad app -- users who signed up in "the blink of an eye".
- The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald were ready for paywalls -- "the internal work has been done" -- but the company had not decided if it would introduce them because building larger audiences was a priority.
- he had the largest web development team in the nation, and said Fairfax was ready to acquire more sites and enter into joint ventures with web entrepreneurs for transactional sites.
- Fairfax was not interested in "big hairy takeovers", preferring to drive down debt and manage conservatively in difficult trading conditions.
Source: The Australian