Fairfax may drop weekday SMH and Age

Fairfax Australia papers. Photo / Getty
Fairfax Australia papers. Photo / Getty

Fairfax Media has flagged an end to weekday print editions of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age in the face of falling advertising revenue.

Chief executive Greg Hywood said the masthead newspapers - which have been in print since 1831 and 1854 respectively - could become weekend-only, as those editions generate the majority of their advertising revenue.

The Australian Financial Review may go the opposite way and drop its weekend edition.

Fairfax has come up with the potential new publishing models in the face of tumbling revenue, which has already led to widespread job losses.

"In the case of the SMH and The Age, the newspapers could potentially offer a differentiated consumer experience designed for the weekend," Mr Hywood said in a speech to the Macquarie Australia Conference.

"This fits with what consumers want - 24/7 digital and print with more lifestyle and contextual information on the weekend when there is more time to engage."

Mr Hywood said the company would inevitably move to a new business model for its metropolitan newspapers, though it may be some time away.

"The model will take shape over the coming years as our transformational journey continues," he said.

Fairfax has been drawing up the potential changes as it monitors international trends, rather than the local industry, Mr Hywood added.

"Across the developed world we are seeing deep changes to the traditional seven-day-a-week publishing model that signals a new future: 24/7 digital and reduced print frequency," he said.

Fairfax's latest revenue figures illustrated the challenges it is facing, with Metro publishing revenue down six per cent in the first 17 weeks of the second of the financial year.

Metro media revenue was up two per cent, due to nine per cent growth from its Domain real estate advertising business.

In a move likely to further boost its reliance on real estate, Fairfax has paid $15 million for a 35 per cent stake in Oneflare, an online service to connect customers with local tradies.

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