Management personnel from our principal media outlets, plus some ragtag entities tagging along, recently petitioned the government for assistance. The lockdown they argued, killed their advertising base, to which Finance Minister Grant Robertson wryly observed that that came under the category of a pre-existing condition. As a result he gave them bugger all, for the cold hard fact is their days are numbered.
That said, the lockdown did harm their critical advertising for a month, but trust me, they aint seen nothing yet.
For the devastating economic after-effects of all the ill-considered lockdown excesses which they initially backed, will see their advertising support permanently vanish, in the process hastening their inevitable demise.
A few years ago the Herald and Stuff chain sought permission to amalgamate and were turned down by the government competition agency on farcical grounds. I wrote in support of the of the proposition in National Business Review saying the competition consideration wasn’t the real issue, rather it was survival.
For me the issue was whether we could support a single national quality newspaper. The world-wide evidence is clear. The answer is no as sadly as newspapers everywhere are dying.
It’s why Bauer cut and ran in New Zealand. They could see the writing on the wall with conventional print media. They were recently sued for specific performance in Australia after reneging on a multi-million dollar commitment, this to buy a media company. They’ve since backed down, settled and plan to scrub the household names, diverse magazines they’ve now acquired, just as they did in New Zealand.
Whether they can make a go of the residual television channel is questionable. Half a century back television was famously described as a license to print money, and so it was, but no longer. Its problem is open slather competition, thus reducing its advertising potential.
All of that said quality journalism won’t die but will thrive, if it’s good enough, via electronic means.