ACM to close four print sites 'to match capacity with demand'

Australian Community Media has revised its 'hit list' of endangered print sites to include Ballarat in Victoria instead of Tamworth, NSW, where printing was previously suspended.

The company began talks yesterday with staff there, and in Wodonga, Murray Bridge and Canberra.

In addition to its own publications, ACM Ballarat prints Nine Entertainment's Melbourne metro daily The Age in a facility extended to take on that work prior to the closure of the Tullamarine print site and sale of the then Fairfax Media business to Nine.

In a statement, ACM said economic challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic had affected "not only our own business but many other publishers who utilised ACM's nine print facilities around the country.

"With the suspension of these external printing clients along with our own product stand-downs, ACM no longer has the volume of printing to warrant the number of print centres in its stable."

ACM says the announcement follows a review of operations and begins a consultation period with employees at the four sites.

This month, the Antony Catalano-led group resumed print editions of dozens of the nondaily newspapers it had suspended in April; its 14 daily newspapers were not suspended during this period, with production moved to other centres where necessary.

In its statement, ACM said the review was "the prudent decision to ensure its ongoing success and its long-term objective of building on its position as Australia's largest regional media publisher".

Staff were told in an email from chief executive Allen Williams that the business needed to position operations to meet the needs of readers and advertisers, "which are increasingly moving to digital".

With the proposals at early stages, he said exact details of proposed closing dates, "which may differ across sites", could not be given.

"This is a hard time for everyone in the industry."

Pictured: ACM is in talks to close four of its nine print sites (ACM photo)

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