17.7 C
Byron Shire
May 7, 2021

Fairfax’s plans for life after print

Latest News

Create the opportunity for everyone to follow their dreams

Local dance group Sprung!! is an integrated dance theatre that has built a community program that creates space for...

Other News

Native Title declared on Evans Head after 25-year fight

Last week the court met on Evans Head, where 52 small parcels of land covering a total of 7.2 square kilometres were given native title.

Government fails to support dying with dignity in Northern Rivers

Approaching the subject of dying is always tricky, often awkward, and never easy. But when you are faced with caring for someone at the end of their life, it helps if you can find support from people who have already navigated the path.

Transforming lives, empowering individuals and uniting communities

A Sound Life, Australia’s first charity to transform the lives of people in need through free music, yoga and meditation programs is having an event this Sunday as a fundraiser for the COVID crisis in India.

Interview with Madeleine West

Madeleine West is a nationally acclaimed actress who is one of the many talents who lives in our region. Not just a soap star (some might know her as Dee Bliss from Neighbours), Madeleine has an extensive performance training background and she’s going to be sharing her Theatresports expertise with kids at the Byron Comedy Fest.

Love flowers at the market

As mothers across Australia look forward to (slightly burnt) toast in bed, the local farmers and producers in our...

Thousands of sober stoners march for drug law reform in Nimbin

Nimbin HEMP Embassy President Michael Balderstone said he was surprised at the high turn-out, given a heavy police presence on streets surrounding the rainforest village.

‘Wise with the benefit of hindsight’: Fairfax chairman Roger Corbett

Fairfax chairman Roger Corbett defended his performance, and that of his fellow board members, yesterday morning under fiery questioning at the company’s annual general meeting in Melbourne.

Fans of the dead-tree editions of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age will draw little comfort from CEO Greg Hywood’s pronouncement that the digital-only future could be only three years away.

‘We will produce papers so long as there is a profitable demand for them,’ he said. ‘To subsidise the metro business from any other business is not part of our strategy… The future will be predominantly digital rather than print.’

Shareholders speaking from the floor expressed frustration at the company’s recent acquisition of old media assets, its dwindling share price – which has halved in six months to 38 cents – and the poor relations between the board and the company’s largest shareholder, Gina Rinehart.

Around 80 per cent of proxy voters supported the generous remuneration package for Fairfax executives – representing a significant 20 per cent protest vote.

Former Labor politician and veteran Fairfax shareholder Chris Schacht, who described Rinehart as the ‘elephant in the room’, decried the impact of the public stoush between Corbett and the mining magnate on shareholder confidence. He said the company’s performance over recent years had been ‘appalling’. ‘The absolute diminution in shareholder value in this company is extraordinary,’ he said.

Of the opposition to granting Rinehart a seat on the board, Corbett said: ‘This has not been a Roger Corbett issue – this has been a board issue. The board is absolutely unanimous in its position on Mrs Rinehart.’

While praising Rinehart’s success in selling minerals – and welcoming her 14 per cent shareholding – Corbett said allowing her onto the board would not be in the interests of all shareholders.

Stephen Mayne, now a policy officer at the Australian Shareholder Association, read a long extract from a swingeing opinion article on Crikey by Eric Beecher accusing Corbett of ignoring advice about the growth of online advertising. He also pressed Corbett to say whether decisions to acquire the Rural Press stable while selling off shares in the highly profitable Trade Me business were correct in hindsight.

Corbett said he did not recall the incident described by Beecher and that decisions about asset acquisitions and sales were made in the best interests of shareholders at the time. ‘Everyone can be wise with the benefit of hindsight – including you,’ he told Mayne.

While acknowledging the share price is of ‘immense concern’, Corbett was looking on the bright side: ‘Fairfax publications now have more readers than ever before and we are managing the transition of audiences to digital better than almost any newspaper company in the world’.

He said the company had conducted a detailed analysis on the pros and cons of de-merging the company earlier this year – including selling off the metro and radio assets – but this was not judged [to be] in shareholder interests. As for the future, he said: ‘We are not ruling anything out’.

His speech and Hywood’s both drew tepid rounds of applause from the crowd. Shareholders, currently munching on sandwiches while reading free copies of the Newcastle Herald and Border Mail, will vote this afternoon on whether to accept the remuneration report and whether media analyst Peter Cox, who is not supported by the board, should be elected as a director.

 


Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

What’s your opinion on the COVID vax?

Even though the Federal government refuses to take responsibility for the slow rollout of COIVID vaccines across the country you can still have your say on its rollout locally.

Co-op meeting

Annette Snow, Myocum As a Mullumbimby Rural Co-op shareholder of 42 years and a past employee of over 13 years, I left last Wednesday’s meeting...

Honouring midwives on their International day

Many of us have a midwife to thank for our safe arrival from the womb, these specialised 'catching' hands are a blessing to both mum and bub in hospitals and in the home.

Water strategy

Alan Dickens, Brunswick Heads The people of Mullumbimby would be aware that Byron Shire Council (BSC) intends to hand over the supply of Mullumbimby’s water...