The real estate wars between News Corp and Fairfax continue to cause trouble, with Fairfax forced to apologise for re-publishing the ads that asserted its Domain app was number one.
Fairfax was busted for re-printing the advertisements in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, despite promising courts it would stop, however says it was caused by a production error.
The fight for the elusive ‘Number One Property App in the Country’ title is a petulant fight, and Domain Group, a part of Fairfax Media, claimed that honour for themselves when they released a series of wraparound adverts across its papers on Thursday, February 11.
REA Group, the company that owns realestate.com.au, majority-owned by News Corp Australia, made a stack of noise about the adverts, saying they were deceptive and complete malarkey.
So Fairfax agreed to withhold the ads until the matter was settled. But clearly, it didn’t keep its promise.
The chief executive of Domain, Antony Catalano, attended court as lawyers tried to stop contempt proceedings for running the print ads over the weekend asserting its ‘number one’ claims. Fairfax said the advertisements were run in error, according to The Oz, and that they were investigating how they managed to go to print.
“Fairfax wishes at the first opportunity to express its sincere and unreserved apology for what has occurred,” barrister Timothy McEvoy said.
Will Houghton QC for REA told the court the realestate.com.au app had 4.8 million downloads by October 2015, compared to 4.2 million for Domain, with Domain boasting far fewer downloads, property listings and unique users than realestate.com.au.
“(The weekend advertisements) have a tendency to mislead because they are simply untrue,” he said, per The Oz.
“On number of visits we are so far ahead it’s not funny.”
Fairfax argued that the metric being used to measure these stats weren’t adequate as it looks at historic downloads, whereas recent uses of the app were a better way to size up the competitors.
REA is expected to argue for damages when the matter returns to court on 7 March, where both parties will have a chance to say their piece. Until then, Fairfax is in the naughty corner and not allowed to publish any more of its ads.