Oz Publisher Fairfax Eyes TV Acquisition

23 February 2005

Better than expected interim profits have encouraged Australian publisher John Fairfax to focus its roving eye on one of the nation's TV networks.

The company is buoyed by a strong performance in New Zealand, by its regional newspapers and a second quarter recovery in advertising revenue. Excluding one-off items, net profit rose twenty six per cent to A$126 million ($99m, €75m, £52m) in the first half.

Among the TV companies in Fairfax's sights is free-to-air broadcaster Ten Network, majority owned by Canadian-headquartered CanWest Global Communications.

Fairfax is acutely aware of declining circulations and the impact of the internet on newspaper advertising.

With further deregulation of media ownership just around the corner, outgoing ceo Fred Hilmer says: "There's likely to be some significant opportunities in terms of cross-marketing.

"We think there will be some opportunities in ad sales and we do think that this whole area of back-office infrastructure [and] content-sharing will be an area where we will get some economies but they are not massive."

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff