What’s all the fuss about?

February 3, 2012 8:46 am

Is Gina Rinehart’s apparent attempt to buy her way onto the Fairfax board really such a big deal in the new content age?

The Australian media are worried and the federal government is terrified. The nation’s richest woman, mining magnate Gina Rinehart, has been snapping up shares in Fairfax Media, publishers of historic mastheads like The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Australian Financial Review, as well as leading talkback radio station 2UE.

According to newspaper and television reports, Rinehart now owns 12.8 per cent of the 181-year-old company, making her the single biggest shareholder. She is apparently planning to purchase 14 per cent of Fairfax.

The news has been met with varying degrees of suspicion and alarm. As soon as Mrs Rinehart began her share-buying assault on the perceived bastion of liberal media, federal communications minister Stephen Conroy said the country needed stronger media ownership laws.

It is widely thought that Mrs Rinehart, who already owns a 10 per cent share in Channel 10, is interested in Fairfax – perhaps even to the point of purchasing a controlling stake – because of the political clout and influence it will provide her. After all, media ownership has worked wonders for Rupert Murdoch.

Murdoch’s News Corp controls about 70 per cent of Australian newspapers, with Fairfax and Kerry Stokes’ West Australian Newspapers accounting for the remainder. Some commentators believe that Rinehart would provide a fitting – and long overdue – challenge to the Murdoch empire. Others, though, are concerned that the $17 billion woman (whose resource holdings and future mining projects have her on track to becoming the richest person in the world) is cut from the same right-wing cloth as the man satirical magazine Private Eye delights in calling ‘the Dirty Digger’.

And there’s the rub that is presumably making the government nervous. As someone whose considerable fortune lies in mining, Gina Rinehart is, not surprisingly, implacably opposed to the ALP’s mining tax. From a financial standpoint, the ABC has reported that it is cheaper for her to buy up Fairfax than it is to pay the tax. Indeed, her ‘raid’ on Fairfax came a day after the publisher’s chairman (for now, anyway), Roger Corbett, backed the tax as ‘payback’ for the boom states of Western Australia (Rinehart’s home) and Queensland.

The changing face of content

So Rinehart’s recent moves raise the possibility – likelihood, even – that there will be no media outlet in Australia (with the possible exception of the ABC) that is editorially opposed to the mining tax. Which means the chances of the Mineral Resource Rent Tax (to give it its proper name) lasting, if it is even able to pass through the Senate, are slim.

Or does it?

Everyone accepts that the media landscape has changed and is continuing to evolve. The Internet and the social media child it spawned has led to an irrevocable decline in newspaper readership (by 6.4 per cent year on year, according to some figures) and, crucially, advertising revenue. Traditional publishers are adopting different ways of addressing this. News Corp is now charging for people to read its articles online, while Fairfax has just announced a subscription service for the SMH (via computer or tablet). The hopeful hook is the fact that it looks just like the printed version.

The situation is so dire that, when it comes to profitability, the jewel in the Fairfax crown is not the Herald or the Age or even the Fin Review. It is a New Zealand online auction house called Trade Me.

Social media will soon undermine the influence of newspaper magnates

In 10 years, the Net has effectively killed traditional newspapers as profitable operations. It is not too big a stretch of the imagination to think that in another decade, the lingering influence of publishers like News Corp and Fairfax will be similarly obsolete.

It has been well documented that people’s news habits are changing. Generation Y and its adolescent successor are already favouring peer-recommended titbits as the influence of the individual surpasses that of the publishing entity. Facebook, Twitter and blogs are not only moving the goalposts but playing origami with them, transforming online and digital content into something wonderfully unstructured and uncontrolled.

Of course, politicians aren’t known for long-term thinking. When minds are controlled by the news cycle (which in itself has been transformed by the immediacy of online and social media content), when the furthest into the future anyone can see is the next election, Gina Rinehart’s shopping expedition – and the possible agenda behind it – is an obvious cause for concern.

But in the big picture of the new content age, not so much…

 

The Message is brought to you by Tick Yes – providing solutions for all your digital and content marketing needs.

Read more...

  • News & Views Don’t Forget to Pat the Dog

    Don’t Forget to Pat the Dog

    A few days ago I posted an article called The Stupidity of Silence where I suggested that ceasing all contact when someone doesn’t give you what you want is a really dumb strategy. Here’s another one. We’re looking to sell our house at the moment. Part of the process is interviewing real estate agents. Theirs is an incredibly competitive business where all they’re offering is reputation and the perceived ability to persuade people to buy. The first agent who came […]

    Read more →
  • Content Marketing How to Make Your Content Actionable

    How to Make Your Content Actionable

    Content is not a magical formula that will make your target audience find your product and then breathlessly buy from you. The power of actionable content comes from your ability to attract the right audience, enabling them to interact with you and then to elevate that relationship to the next level i.e. for them to become a customer. So, how do you make your content actionable? Most importantly, you must give the reader, viewer or listener a sense of how they […]

    Read more →
  • News & Views The Stupidity of Silence

    The Stupidity of Silence

    It always astounds me when people in business don’t follow-up with a simple thank you email or even a note – when was the last time you received a handwritten thank you note? – after we’ve had some type of interaction.

    Read more →
  • Email Marketing Features What you Need to Know About Email Marketing for Mobile

    What you Need to Know About Email Marketing for Mobile

    It’s no secret that smartphones and tablets can no longer be ignored by email marketers—and there aren’t many more marketers out there doing so. It is a massive part of customer communication and revenue, but do you know just how massive? The following statistics come from all corners of the globe, and from many different industries. While they keep changing everyday, some are quite shocking. Here’s a brief description of everything you need to know about the power of email […]

    Read more →
  • Digital Marketing Features How to Reduce Your Media Spend & Achieve Better Results

    How to Reduce Your Media Spend & Achieve Better Results

    Digital marketing has changed the media landscape forever and marketing budgets are being spread across channels – mainly digital – that previously didn’t exist. The problem is that optimisation is not as simple as it was before; if you’re not careful, your spend can get out of hand. By optimising each of your channels, you can reduce your media spend and achieve better results – all the while proving a positive return on investment (ROI) for every dollar you spend. […]

    Read more →
  • Features News & Views Digital Marketing Lessons To Be Learnt From Donald Trump

    Digital Marketing Lessons To Be Learnt From Donald Trump

    Donald Trump teaching you marketing lessons? Seriously? Yes, seriously. Love him or hate him, Donald Trump has made the race for the White House fascinating. And fascinating doesn’t happen by chance. Exceptional marketing combined with good old fashioned, in-your-face salesmanship are central to the success of his campaign – so far. So putting aside your opinion on his politics, let’s look at what can be learned from Trump’s ‘Making America Great Again’ campaign. Know Your Audience Contrary to the opinion […]

    Read more →
  • Digital Marketing Features How to avoid digital dead ends

    How to avoid digital dead ends

    Have you ever noticed that so-called ‘express lanes’ on the road or in stores are often slower than the normal lanes? While I know it’s easy to go on auto-pilot when performing mundane chores like driving or shopping, it amazes me that people so often follow the actual signs instead of reading the signs around them. Because we humans are inherently disengaged, conflicted or uncertain as to what we should do in many situations, we’re attracted to people and things […]

    Read more →
  • Social Media When the Social Media Circus Leaves Town

    When the Social Media Circus Leaves Town

    David Bowie died almost two months ago. Soon after, we posted about the tawdry British reality TV show making money from his ex-wife’s reactions. Inevitably, her presence on the show at the time and her response to the news created a social media firestorm. Focus, of course has moved on to the latest deaths, tragedies, political intrigues and sporting victories / defeats. But it’s worth pondering the enduring impact that not being news has on the people who were previously at the centre of […]

    Read more →
  • Entertainment News & Views Chris Rock’s Oscars Lessons for Marketers

    Chris Rock’s Oscars Lessons for Marketers

    Did you see Chris Rock at last night’s Oscars? Man, he nailed it: loose, funny, topical, irreverent, black. Hang on, what was that? Black? You can’t say that! That’s, that’s, well that’s racist! In isolation it’s jarring to refer to someone’s skin colour or any other personal feature when judging work they’ve just completed. Of course, it’s also completely irrelevant. But let’s back up a bit. This year’s Oscars were all about race. After the nominations were announced in January there […]

    Read more →
  • Entertainment News & Views Surreal Reality TV

    Surreal Reality TV

    Few of us over the age of 40 have not been saddened by the death of David Bowie this week. Whether you liked his music or not, he was undoubtedly an original talent who had a profound impact on much of the culture of the 70’s and 80’s. Contrast the outpouring of love and nostalgia we’re now seeing due to Bowie’s passing with what’s happening on UK’s Celebrity Big Brother. By sheer coincidence, Bowie’s ex-wife Angie is currently a ‘resident’ […]

    Read more →