Fairfax will print its newspapers daily ‘for some years yet’

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Fairfax Media, which had been expected to switch its Monday to Friday newspaper printing to digital only, has given its hard copy mastheads an extended life as daily publications.

CEO Greg Hywood today announced the appointment of Chris Janz, a veteran of digital publications, as managing director of Australian Metro Publishing.

Within the announcement, Hywood told staff in an email: “While we have considered many options, the model we have developed involves continuing to print our publications daily for some years yet.”

The plan to continue print editions will surprise some industry analysts. Credit Suisse had forecast a significantly reduced print exposure, probably this year. “We expect Fairfax to formally outline its plans for a move to a digital-only weekday model for the metro titles,” the investment bank said in a note to clients in October.

Janz, who was founding CEO of HuffPost Australia and established the Fairfax-owned Allure Media digital publishing portfolio, will now head the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Australian Financial Review.

“Chris has been overseeing the impressive product and technology development work that will be the centrepiece of Metro’s next generation publishing model,” says Hywood.

“It involves even greater primacy of our digital publishing focus, delivering unrivalled news and information products to our customers, and sustaining a commercially successful print proposition.”

Print publishing is still a focus.

Allen Williams, a former CEO of Fairfax New Zealand who has headed the Australian publishing media division, has been appointed managing director, publishing transition.

“This role involves ensuring the success of our publishing model,” says Hywood.

Fairfax last year wrote down the value of its mastheads by $989 million, pushing the full year result for 2016 to a net loss after tax of $893.5 million. Revenue was down 2% to $1.830 billion.

Excluding write downs of more than $1 billion, underlying profit was $132.5 million, down 7.6%.

(Disclosure: Fairfax Media owns 100% of Allure Media, the publisher of Business Insider.)