THE AGE OF DESPERATION: Fairfax lavish kickbacks are sad ploy to keep sinking Saturday sales afloat

Newsagents traditionally receive around 25% of the price of a newspaper as their commission on the sales; insiders say it’s not a huge profit centre but the idea was that it would attract sufficient traffic to help sell higher margin items.

But as part of Fairfax’s desperate efforts to keep the haemorrhaging Age newspaper’s sales from plummeting, they have offered what is considered in the industry an insanely generous offer to newsagents which is – on top of the commission already in place – to give them $1.50 for every copy of the Saturday Age sold.

At this rate, with the cover price is $2.50, newsagents could make as much as $2.12 a copy, Fairfax might end up paying people to take the newspaper away, a reversal of the traditional economics of print since the time of Gutenberg.

Indeed, documents obtained by VEXNEWS show that Fairfax are encouraging newsagents to themselves offer incentives to general retailers or sub-agents to get them all in on the scam.

It comes at a time when the newspaper has Indian students going door-to-door offering subscriptions at either very deep discounts or for free. One resident in the Moonee Ponds area told VEXNEWS yesterday that a polite but pushy Indian student salesman from The Age had knocked on their door persistently to offer them the newspaper for free for six months in addition to a free copy of the Good Food Guide. He took the deal but is no woken every morning around 5am by the thud of the unwanted journal. They aren’t reading the paper and it goes straight to recycling, he explained.

These stories are speading across Melbourne like wildfire.

Fairfax insiders say this is part of a ploy to make the re-launch of the Saturday Age more successful than it has actually been. Aside from missing big stories and losing their much-advertised Andrew Rule to their nimble opposition at the Herald Sun, it has apparently not really gone as planned.

The main reason many people used to buy the Age on Saturdays was because of its classifieds, where it once dominated employment, real estate and automobile markets. In the days of print this was a natural monopoly. That era has passed, the rivers of gold have dried up, diverted into online alternatives Fairfax could have bought on the cheap at one stage but didn’t.

So the Saturday Age – which used to be the only profitable day The Age had – is now in terminal decline. And it seems no amount of re-launches or bungs to newsagents can save them.

The print edition cannot long endure. And what’s best is they know it. Some of their best journos are leaving, occasionally made offers by their rival, very few now choose to stay in the Media House crypt.

Newsagents can smell their fear and desperation and far from leading them to want to dedicate themselves to establishing shrines for the sale of the Saturday Age to collect their $1.50 kickback, they are just quietly adjusting to the idea that it isn’t long for this world.

UPDATE: Check out this very ugly chart of The Age’s parent company, Fairfax (ASX: FXJ) prepared by a member of the famed VEXNEWS Investigations Unit embedded in the wonderful world of the financial markets.

It reveals soaring levels of “short-selling” (where investors are speculating the share price will fall) in the stock and a simultaneously plummeting share price. Leaving aside our normally enthusiastic hyperbole, this is clearly not good and shows that the financial markets are well aware that Fairfax’ key metropolitan newspaper assets might not be worth very much at all.

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32 Comments

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32 responses to “THE AGE OF DESPERATION: Fairfax lavish kickbacks are sad ploy to keep sinking Saturday sales afloat

  1. The newsagents are only the middlemen. Why don’t Fairfax knock $1.50 off the cover price?

  2. Peter

    Sucked in Age.

    Maybe you would get more readers if you dropped your inane and insane Left-wing smarmy attitudes and developed a little patriotic and pro-capitalist feeling.

  3. Piv

    @Peter | March 22, 2011, 9:49
    Too right. I’d re-subscribe tomorrow if they did!

  4. anon

    Maybe paul and josephine may be out of work at the same time. Hooray

  5. meanwhile, Saturday’s Age fell hook line & sinker for Gadaffi’s announcement of a “ceasefire”. The World’s Worst Broadsheet’s splash read like a sickening press release from triploi – while Gadaffi rolled his tanks into Benghazi.

  6. bravo

    Yep, The Age can’t help framing everything as anti-Abbott, anti-Labor right, anti-socially conservative, anti-growth, anti-American, anti-UK Tory, … it is so tedious and so insulting.

  7. Anonymous

    You’re a bit late Vexnews. The Age stopped putting out a newspaper years ago.

  8. Anonymous

    ted must be upset his fav paper is going down

  9. Pytlozvejk

    Melbourne Uni students can get the Age for $1 a year if they’re members of the student union. I bet those $1 a year subscribers are counted in circulation numbers. I get the Age for free at Fitness First, and in the Qantas Club – maybe that’s also counted in circulation. When the Age collapses, we may find out what the real (ie, not give-away) circulation was, and it will be a very small number.

  10. Rudi

    I get the Herald Sun for free at my local car park, also sometimes when I attend the zoo and read it at my local cafe. I have never bought it. I also get the Age for $100 a year for 7 days a week plus free copy of the Good Food Guide thrown in, which is as good as giving it away. In the past, I have had the Australian for about $50 for 26 weeks 6 days a week.

    All papers discount cover prices significantly so they can claim readership. For all of the Age’s faults, I’d be sorry if they went out of business and Melbourne became a one paper town with the Australian.

  11. Irene Webber

    Leave the age alone! nothing wrong with being an irrelevant fossil!

  12. Irene Webber the 47th

    Leave Irene alone she gives amazing head

  13. Bolano's fish flavered fingers

    Leave Irene alone

  14. Ronnie

    Why is it relevant to mention the salesmen are Indian?

  15. Cheap Shot

    Hi Ronnie
    Sorry, I can not resist it. Should’nt they be working at the Shell Service Station.

  16. Jill

    Couldn’t happen to a nicer set of bigots.

  17. I won’t be renewing my Age subscription when it runs out – the paper has gone too far to the Left for my liking.

  18. Anoin

    Seems that the Age is going is the same direction at HSU – down, down, down, karma is a wonderful thing.

  19. Gratuitous Adviser

    With the 24 hour News cycle, shockjocks, dumbing-down of the NEWS and political comment, doorstop interviews and political knee jerk decisions, I feel that we are not only going through a period that will result in the loss of the hardcopy daily newspapers but also a period that will make it difficult, if not impossible, for our politicians to provide good government.

  20. ethnic branchstacker

    The Age lost a lot of its lefties after the appalling bias towards the Liberals at the last Victorian election, Paul Austin, that wolf in sheeps clothing, may ultimately to be to blame.

  21. Mal Content

    Burn baby, burn.
    hmmm. All that evil carbon 😉

  22. Bolano's slippery fingers

    Leave Irene Webber alone she is a star

  23. Gob job

    Take note Irene Webber, You will burn in the eternal fires of hell for working with Fegan.

  24. Les the boss

    Hey Irene do you still smoke dope? It must be hard working in Fegans shed all day long!

  25. Irene webber

    I will expose panch, I am not mad

  26. I choose realize sure-fire and bookmark this page-boy, I will draw nigh backtrack from to follow you more.

  27. Inspector Knacker

    Surely this puffing of the circulation figures consititutes conspiracy to defraud the advertisers? You can bet your size 9’s that their sales people are claiming the phony figures to obtain sales results and that will be a policy which goes right to the Chairman of the Board of Fairfax. I predict a raid on the whole scurvy lot of them by the AFP’s finest. Fuck ’em and their high handed moralising while all along they commit common larceny.

  28. BIG BOY

    Oh dearie me Inspector Knacker”. (Obviously big balls by his comments but tiny with his ‘size 9’s’ scrawls). Some of us real men have size 13 shoes and body parts to match. And strong enuff to hold a SAT AGE bundle up in the air.

  29. BIG BOY

    All replies; especially real women, considered. Ha-ha. Just as accurate as some of those mad scramblings form those vestiges still around from “The Loony Left”. GOTCHA ALL AGAIN.

  30. Simon

    Hi Big Boy; R U a closet queen; just like many of your leftist mates. Personally I woud prefer that lovely soundinf Irene anytime.

  31. Alf

    hayllo irene. wood luv to take you along to mu dlp club sum time. say yes plese.

  32. Hello fellows. It was found that human beings have got programs — a set of major functions which allow management of all psycho-physiology of any human being. The program distinguishes one bio-machine from another. More info — Catalog of Human Population

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