In his Â‘State of the IndustryÂ’ address, PANPA president Ken Steinke told the 450 plus delegates at the 36th annual conference in Cairns there was a renewed confidence highlighted by major capital investment, new products and innovations.
"On the investment and development front, News Limited announced that its free Melbourne commuter newspaper MX would be transformed into a national brand with local editions in Sydney and Brisbane before the end of the year," Steinke told the onference.
He added that from the middle of next year four Southern Queensland dailies published by APN will be produced from a new group printing centre on the Sunshine Coast.
"Across the continent, West Australian Newspapers is spending $75m on a state-of-the-art combined heatset and coldset printing press at its Herdsman centre in Perth." KBA won the contract for a Colora press line and semi-commercial Comet press to replace existing presses at Perth.
Managing director of KBA Australasia Rhys Burton, said the combination of semi-commercial and coldset presses "highlights the emerging trend for heatset content within the daily newspaper".
QI Press Controls will supply the innovative colour registration technology, Intelligent Register System, as part of the West Australian Newspaper Holdings (WANH) upgrade.
WANH has also purchased the Geraldton Guardian and associated businesses.
Steinke also highlighted Norske Skog’s $129m upgrade at the Albury Mill, which he described as a "fundamental vote of confidence in the industry’s future".
Norske Skog vice president marketing and sales, Andrew Leighton, said this strategic investment in regional paper production demonstrated their support of the Australian printed medium and was consistent with recent publisher and printer investments.
He said rising production costs and decreasing paper prices had necessitated improved distribution flows with production closer to the customer base.
This includes upgrading Albury to a world class production site and simplifying and lowering costs at the Tasman Mill. Paper Mill 1 upgrades at Albury Mill, including new winder, new shoe press, upgraded former, dryer section and hood, will increase PM speed from 1280 to 1600 metres/min with a capacity increase of 50,000 tonnes pa.
Albury Mill, currently producing 32 per cent of Australian newspaper consumption will have an increased capacity following the upgrades of 265,000 tonnes pa, 39 per cent of consumption.
This multi-million upgrade is coupled with the $31m upgrade at the Tasman Mill, which includes rebuilding and speeding up of PM2 and PM3, increasing capacity by 30,000 tonnes pa. The former and dryer will be upgraded on both mills and Paper Mill 1 will be closed.
This will effectively reduce the capacity of the Tasman Mill by 50,000 tonnes pa, which will be supplied to Australian customers from Albury.
The major benefits, Leighton noted, were reduced transport costs and lead times, improved logistics and less potential for shipping damage and delays.
Quoting the president and CEO of Norske Skog, Jan Oksum, Leighton concluded that "this project shows our commitment to our customers and our businesses in the region, as it will further enhance our product quality".
Steinke said the industry in Australia has produced "outstanding financial results" in the period under review since last year.
He said industry newsletter Newshound estimated total advertising pages will grow by seven per cent through to the first quarter of 2006, pointing out "by any standards, in any time, those are great numbers".
He also noted shifts in industry leaders with the restructuring of the Fairfax executive hierarchy as CEO Fred Hilmer prepares to retire and its former New Zealand chief, Brian Evans, has been named chief operating officer.
He previewed a conference presentation by Publishers National Environment Bureau executive director Frank Kelett on new directions in recycling, by noting that AustraliaÂ’s recycling of newspapers is the best in the world at 74.5 per cent. Kelett told delegates in his address that despite the fact that the Australian industry was the best at newspaper recycling in the world, "you are not blowing your own trumpet".
Across the Tasman, Steinke said newspapers have been prospering in line with the general growth of the economy and increasing advertising market share to $NZ 790m or 38 per cent of all media, with television slipping slightly to hold 31 per cent of the market.
He said a major industry event was the successful launch of the Herald on Sunday by APN News and Media. "The new Auckland based compact showed an average net circulation in excess of 101,000 at its first ABC audit earlier this year. And readership well in advance of 300,000.".
Other industry highlights in the address included the publication of a weekly children’s newspaper by the 136-year-old daily, Fiji Times, the publication of a New Zealand edition of SamoaÂ’s daily newspaper, the Samoa Observer, in Auckland, and in Malaysia, the country’s oldest English language daily The New Straits Times has gone compact after 160 years as a broadsheet.
"And China is a story all by itself," said Steinke. "Since the government removed restrictions on pagination, established papers have been booming and new titles seem to pop up daily."
Another major milestone was the 150th birthday celebration of The Age in Melbourne.
Steinke concluded his address by commending the detailed report by Rupert Murdoch in May’s PANPA Bulletin highlighting his thoughts on the threats and opportunities posed by the internet.
"He believed the industry had been caught napping by the digital revolution. Not any more. He said we should grasp it as a ’huge opportunity to improve’ and that, by improving our chances of success in the online world, we would also improve our printed products’."
Steinke said the online world is a world not constrained by geographical, let alone company, boundaries. "To succeed I think we will need to innovate and step beyond the realm of what we have learnt in 400 years. We will need to seek out solutions that involve high levels of co-operation between existing print competitors, and in some cases put aside intercompany rivalries in the interests of industry success.
"It is not rocket science to fix this, but it does require will and commitment. After the challenges of 400 years development and innovation, it should be easy."
Guest speaker, shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Security, Kevin Rudd, said "foreign news is increasingly domestic news", particularly with about one in 20 Australians living around the world.
He said the rise of China and India in economic power would have major implications for Australia. With China on the global acquisition trail, there could be an impact on the Australian economy, and the necessity to acquire a level of global literacy which we have not needed before.
In his address "Newspapers are Forever", Harold Mitchell said the world of instant electronic news was now with us and the industry should rise to the challenge.
"This next challenge for newspapers is as great as any, but I have a belief that content will overcome the technology challenge to those who understand it and want to accept it. The sooner we understand that technology is simply a delivery system to the matter of content, is where people in this room will survive."
Mitchell said with more changes in the next 10 years than experienced in the last 50 years, "content and convenience will
Content as the key to the challenge by digital technology was a consistent theme throughout the three-day conference. Highly innovative technology and streamlined work processes were also stressed but most speakers noted that people, well-trained staff, were still integral to the future success of the publishing industry.
Speaking on Global Best Practice in Web Offset Production, the chairman of Web Offset Champions Group UK, Nigel Wells, said there was no simple recipe for success, but that people and training have the biggest single impact.
Steven Bosiljevac of PricewaterhouseCoopers agreed there was a challenge for traditional newspapers and that content was the key to the future. He said the newspaper industry grew 7.1 per cent in 2004, indicating there was a strong future.
Group Quality and Imaging Manager, Fairfax Printers, Glen St Leon, revealed a new working set of specifications for newspaper production "the first in seven years" at a soft launch on day one of the conference, inviting input from delegates and speakers throughout the conference.
He said after seven years without revision the specifications were outdated and needed to meet new needs, such as the dramatic increase in colour printing. He pointed out that colour has entered all parts of the newspaper industry, including the classifieds, and the specifications were needed to ensure "standardisation and repeatable quality" expected by customers.
Highly innovative technology demonstrated to delegates included QI Press Controls’ new markless colour control system, the Intelligent Density System unique because it takes the digital prepress original as the point of departure.
Described as the "latest concept in the field of spectral colour maintenance", QI Press Controls chairman Menno Jansen said "this is a hot item on colour management closing the loop between pre-press and press on both heatset and coldset presses".
He said immediately after start-up the IDS measures the entire printing image on-line and regulates the colours according to the spectral colour values of the original. The printer checks with eyes, the IDS uses a digital camera.
"This camera takes a snapshot while the press is running and measures the colours to ensure they are the same as the original TIF files."
Jansen said a colour bar was used in the past so this new technology not only saves time but also uses less paper.
QI Press Controls opened in Melbourne in March and is planning to open in Singapore soon.
For newspapers that wanted to have a magazine Â“look and feelÂ”, regional marketing manager Agfa Gevaert, Garry Muratore, demonstrated Sublima, the new high resolution screening technology for newspapers.
He said Sublima was the
first implementation of "XM" technology patented by Agfa, combining the desirable behaviour of AM and FM screening without the drawbacks of a conventional hybrid solution.
Muratore said this technology would not only increase newspaper production times but improve quality to gain advertisers and please readers.
Managing director Precision Colour Printing, UK, Paul Liggins, admitted to a wry smile when first asked to present to PANPA on the future of newspaper presses. "It seems only yesterday the pundits were telling us that newspapers were finished and the internet rules," he said.
"How wrong they were. Newspaper reading and pagination is increasing in Europe even if sales are not, and newspapers remain a generally strong advertising sector."
Liggins demonstrated Goss’s latest brainchild, which he described as the "publisher’s press", the Goss Flexible Printing System. He said there would soon be an announcement about the first Australian installation of FPS.
For the second consecutive year, newspapers from South-East Asia dominated the winners’ list of the 2005 PANPA Newspaper of the Year Technical Excellence Awards, announced on August 10.
The South China Morning Post, Hong Kong, and the Apple Daily in both Taiwan and Hong Kong, took out the majority of the technical awards.
Judges said the "single width over four webs" was the most interesting and challenging category to judge and score, with the award given jointly to Apple Daily, Taiwan, and Apple Daily, Hong Kong, who could not be separated even after the judges completed a second round of scoring. Special recognition was given to the standard of reproduction in colour images.
The South China Morning Post was a clear winner of the Double Width up to four webs category, and also took out the Preprint, Double Width category which judges said was "an excellent example of what can be done by a newspaper plant when everybody concerned works together".
The winner of the 2005 PANPA-Norske Skog Newspaper of the Year Awards was MelbourneÂ’s daily Herald Sun, closely followed by its stablemate, the Sunday Herald Sun, with The South China Morning Post earning a highly commended award in third place.