Strong demand for local and regional papers: Miller

Publishing remains a vital part of APN’s offering despite growth in its radio division, with demand for regional and community newspapers remaining strong, APN CEO Michael Miller told the company’s annual general meeting on Friday.

APN posted solid results for the 2013 financial year, with EBITDA up 8 per cent to $162.8 million, and net profit up 10 per cent to $59.5 million – its strongest growth rate since 2007.

Radio was the company’s strongest front with the Australian Radio Network, of which APN bought out entirely in 2013, and New Zealand’s The Radio Network both outperforming their markets with a revenue growth of 6 per cent and 9 per cent respectively.

Publishing accounted for 44 per cent of the company’s EBITDA.

“There continues to be a large audience demand for regional and community newspapers and we are proud of the important role that they play in supporting the communities we serve,” Mr Miller said.

“Regional audiences rely on our publications, as often they are the only local news content, and the source of important community conversations.”

Australian Regional Media (ARM) reaches with more than 1.3 million consumers each week via print, desktop and mobile, equating to 76 per cent of people living within its publishing “footprint” from Coffs Harbour to Airlie Beach on Australia’s east coast.

New Zealand Media (NZM) connects with more than 2.1 million consumers every week, with a total audience of 1.4 million, a figure that is still growing, Mr Miller said.

Closer collaboration on the cards

APN delivered cost savings of more than $40 million between ARM and NZM in 2013.

“In an ever changing media landscape we are adapting the way we operate to become more efficient and respond to changes in consumer behaviour, particularly advertising behaviour and to develop new revenue streams,” Mr Miller said.

In New Zealand, such changes included the switch to compact newspapers and morning delivery, developments which had “given us further confidence to introduce new products,” including a digital subscription model for the New Zealand Herald, Mr Miller said.

Closer collaboration between businesses was a key part of the company’s strategy, as a result of increasing consumer trends towards needs across multiple platforms.

“While most of our businesses outperformed their markets in 2013, we have identified opportunities for them to work more closely together, particularly in New Zealand, and be open to greater collaboration with other media companies in order to provide a wider range of options to our clients and to win a wider share of the advertising market.

“As the owner of New Zealand’s leading newspaper, radio, outdoor and digital media brands we have the confidence to continue innovating and to lead the way in which the industry engages with advertisers and consumers.”

APN New Zealand welcomes its first CEO

This week former CEO of The Radio Network, Jane Hastings, will commence her new role as the CEO of APN New Zealand.

The move, which saw New Zealand Media CEO Martin Simons step down, was a step towards “our ambition to be a more integrated media company,” Mr Miller told The Newspaper Works.

“Jane has a lot of experience in advertising and headed up agencies previously as a head of marketing, and the immediate opportunity we see for the combined business is to increase our share of overall advertising revenue.

“Clients are looking for more unique and quicker, seamless solutions and an integrated structure will better enable that.”

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