Australian Associated Press (AAP) has announced the closure of the AAP Newswire and the Pagemasters editorial production service.
This decision was made due to the decline in the number of media companies subscribing to the news wire service in recent years.
In a press release sent by the AAP’s newswires service Medianet, the “unprecdented impact of digital platforms that take other people’s content and distribute it for free” is to blame for the closure.
The release said: [This] has led to too many companies choosing to no longer use AAP’s professional service. We have reached the point where it is no longer viable to continue.”
The decision to close the business is subject to completion of formal processes by the shareholders.
AAP is owned by Nine, News Corp, The West Australian and Australian Community Media.
The Newswire will close at the end of June and Pagemasters at the end of August.
AAP’s press release distribution business Medianet and its media intelligence business Mediaverse will be offered for sale.
The decision to close the AAP business means there will be job losses but there will be employment opportunities via AAP’s shareholders and other external companies.
In particular, News Corp and Nine will be making additional investment in their own news teams to replace some of the content they currently source from AAP.
AAP CEO Bruce Davidson said the closure was an extremely sad day for Australian journalism.
“AAP has been a critical part of journalism in Australia since 1935, and it is tragic that it will come to an end,” he said.
“Hundreds of wonderful journalists made their start at AAP and went on to brilliant careers. Many others chose to stay with the agency for several decades and are part of the revered ‘AAP family’.
“Many more amazing people have been part of the fabric of the company in critical support and management roles.
“I want to thank all of them for their service and contribution to Australian journalism over many years.”
Davidson said the decision did not reflect on the quality, trust, accuracy and reliability of the AAP news service, but rather an economic reality.
“Our reporters, photographers, videographers and production staff are second to none. They have been leading the country in breaking news for decades and showed the way for publishers in terms of the 24-hour news cycle.”
AAP chairman Campbell Reid paid tribute to the AAP staff who had served the Australian community for the better part of a century.
“For generations AAP has been journalism’s first responder,” said Mr Reid, who is News Corp’s Group Executive, Corporate Affairs, Policy and Government Relations.
“Its reporters, photographers and production staff have accurately recorded the first cut of contemporary Australian history and the nation is in their debt.
“It is a great loss that professional and researched information provided by AAP is being substituted with the un-researched and often inaccurate information that masquerades as real news on the digital platforms.
“I want to thank AAP’s leaders, CEO Bruce Davidson, Newswire editor-in-chief Tony Gillies and many others who have been fighting to keep the AAP business alive in the face of this relentless disruption.
“But eventually the number of organisations choosing to no longer rely on the AAP service has made the business unsustainable.
“Today’s decision is made with a very heavy heart.”
Free TV CEO Bridget Fair responded to the closure, noting the impact digital giants had on the decision.
“Today’s AAP announcement is a sad reminder of the pressures that Australian media businesses currently face. The work of AAP and its journalists was highly valued by Free TV members.
“This shines a big, bright light on the impact that digital giants Google and Facebook are having on Australia’s media landscape.
“In response to the ACCC Digital Platforms Inquiry, the Government has required that Google and Facebook negotiate bargaining Codes of Conduct to redress the substantial power imbalance between them and Australia’s media businesses.
“This also shows the urgency of reform of Australia’s archaic media regulations. It is simply not sustainable for our media businesses to continue to operate under regulations from the last century in areas such as Australian content quotas and advertising restrictions.
“Today’s sad decision to close AAP only serves to emphasise that there is no time to waste in finalising both the bargaining Code and regulatory reform. The risk of Australians losing their trusted, local news services is real and it is here now.”