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Global Publishing Trends. Lecture 10 Publishing Principles and Practice ACP 2079. Is cross-media ownership a local or global issue?. Last week we looked at Australia’s cross-media ownership laws: what they are designed to do, how they worked up until 2007.

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Global publishing trends l.jpg

Global Publishing Trends

Lecture 10

Publishing Principles and PracticeACP 2079


Is cross media ownership a local or global issue l.jpg
Is cross-media ownership a local or global issue?

  • Last week we looked at Australia’s cross-media ownership laws: what they are designed to do, how they worked up until 2007.

  • What changes to these laws have occurred in 2007, and is this easing of restrictions a local or global trend?


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Changes to cross-media ownership laws in Australia 2007

  • In 2007 Senator Helen Coonan introduces major changes to Australia’s cross-media ownership laws, these include:

  • Ownership limits lifted (with some caveats)

  • Restrictions on foreign investment removed

  • No new fourth commercial TV network

  • Digital TV to go on between 2010 and 2012

  • Source: http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/coonans-media-makeover/2006/03/14/1142098463257.html#


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Changes to media ownership in Australia in 2007

  • The legal reforms have led to widespread changes in media ownership in Australia.

  • Media Watch on the ABC (9/7/07) includes a good summary.

  • http://www.abc.net.au/mediawatch/transcripts/s1974062.htm

  • Some highlights from this source follow:


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Some Changes in 2007

  • Kerry Stokes sells half of Channel 7 to foreign equity investors KKR and takes 16% of the West Australian. He also takes the Australian titles of Time Inc.

  • James Packer sells 75% of Nine as well as his magazine business and other media assets to the Hong Kong equity group CVC.

  • Rupert Murdoch targets Federal Publishing, picking up magazines like Vogue and a raft of East Coast local newspapers.

  • The Canadian Asper family failed to find a buyer for Channel Ten, so they took advantage of the new laws to take control of the network instead.


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Changes in 2007 (cont.)

  • Billionaire media player Bruce Gordon, owner of WIN TV, has snapped up Channel 9 Adelaide and Perth.

  • Fairfax buys Albury/Wodonga’s Border Mail then merges with Rural Press, bolstering its stable with 240 regional and community newspapers across Australia.

  • The Macquarie Media Group already owns 87 radio stations across the country, now it will buy from Fairfax, nine commercial radio licences in South Australia and Queensland.

  • And MMG will pick up Southern Cross's regional television businesses in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria and Southern Cross Television in Northern Australia, Central Australia and Tasmania.


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Global implication of cross-media ownership

  • The recent changes in Australian media ownership not only involve players on a global stage, the issue of foreign ownership of media is an ongoing issue and global trend.

  • For example, in the USA, single-company ownership of media in a given market is now permitted up to 45% (formerly 35%, up from 25% in 1985) of that market.

  • A media company in Canada may not be more than 20 per cent foreign-owned.

  • Axel Springer AG is one of the largest newspaper publishing companies in Europe, claiming to have over 150 newspapers and magazines in over 30 countries in Europe. (Sources: Wikipedia).


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Are the Australian trends reflected globally?

  • Last week we looked at a snapshot of the current statistics of the Australian book publishing industry

  • But what trends are indicated when compared with earlier statistics, and

  • Are these trends similar to global trends?


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Australian Trends

  • Publisher income static but profit up from 5.6% to 9.7%

  • Expenditure dropped by 5.1%

  • Author royalty payments fall

  • Operating expenses fall by 35%

  • Exports drop for first time in 10 years

  • Imports up

  • 30% increase in overseas printing.

    Sources: ABS figures released 2005, and Australian Bookseller & Publisher Sept 2005, Thorpe-Bowker.


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Reading between the lines…

  • The figures quoted indicate various trends, but the decline in sales of literary fiction is one of the most significant trends that is not spelled out.

  • Mark Davis argues that literary fiction is in decline around the world and Australia is no exception.

  • This is an echo of what Jason Epstein argued in the article we read from Book Business


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Epstein in a nutshell (1)

  • The shopping mall bookstores in the suburbs rely on bestsellers moving fast.

  • The independents with diverse stock including many backlist titles can not generally pay the high shopping mall rents and many are being forced out of business.

  • Internet retailers require large backlists to work, but economy of scale is still a problem.


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Epstein in a nutshell (2)

  • Epstein acknowledges the success of stores like Borders who have diverse catalogues, offer coffee and some even have second hand books

  • Epstein tried to get together a consortium of publishers to agree to common warehousing of titles, frontlist and backlist, then sell over internet. Easy in theory, hard in practice.


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Mark Davis (Melb Uni) adds…

  • Six major companies control most of the Western world’s media: Time Warner, Viacom, Bertlesmann, Disney, News Limited, Vivendi.

  • Consolidation of media, including book publishing concerns, will likely mean profits will override cultural concerns.

  • Genre/popular fiction provides more reliable cashflows, less risk than literary fiction.


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Fragmentation of the market

  • Interactive multimedia, niche markets and narrowcasting have fragmented mass markets.

  • Chris Anderson, (USA) author of The Long Tail (Hyperion, 2006), says digital-era marketing companies are now taking advantage of an enormous number of niche markets which can make up half a company’s profit or more (digital jukebox example).

  • This fragmentation is exacerbated by a decline in schools focusing on literary texts, as opposed to film, media and multimedia texts and popular culture.


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Final Points

  • “My guess is that future publishing units will be small, though they may be related to a central financial source…book publishing may therefore become once more a cottage industry of diverse, creative and autonomous units.” (Jason Epstein)

  • “The increasing difficulty of getting published too, has fostered a search for new paradigms, reflected in the rise of alternative literary festivals, a live reading circuit, and self-publishing. Such developments point to how literary culture might become a do-it-yourself culture.” (Mark Davis)