Friday, May 30, 2008

Wentworth Courier loses its grip

"THE Wentworth Courier has lost its 15-year hold on real estate advertising in the eastern suburbs after the competition watchdog upheld complaints lodged by Fairfax Media that the rival publication's deals were anti-competitive," writes the SMH today.

The Courier signed real estate agents into deals which locked up 75% of their total advertising, clearly an anti-competitive contract.

The fat, plastic-covered Murdoch publication has dominated the eastern suburbs for decades and it is well known by would-be competitors that their price-cutting and targeting of competitors' own advertisers is the biggest barrier to setting up a rival title.

That's partly why The Kings Cross Times stopped producing a newspaper in 2003 and exists now only as a blog. We simply did not have the financial backing to withstand a long price war.

Lawrence Gibbons, publisher of the City News, The Hub and The Bondi View, recently wrote about predatory pricing, referring to a small magazine The Village Voice that is occasionally bundled with the Courier.

Its advertising rates were a mere fraction of the Courier's and Gibbons saw this as a means to lock his and other publications out of the market by undercutting their low ad rates.

While I have issues with Lawrence's approach to local newspapers, I support his efforts and applaud his survival against his Goliath competition.

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