Fairfax Or Channel 10 A Better Fit For Telstra?

Today we begin a self-imposed short break following a mandatory short break. Easter is over, the scoffing of chocolate eggs must cease, but the resumption of real work can at least be postponed for a week.

We head to Sydney for a brief holiday, not very glamorous we know, but as it is the first time that the two little nippers (aged seven and six) have been airborne we think a flight of just over an hour is sufficient to break them in. As of yesterday evening all milk and dairy products have been vetoed in our effort to reduce the appearance of the Vomitron.

As we suspected, there wasn’t too much to report on the Australian market yesterday. All the doors of broking firms remained tightly shut. The roads to Portsea and Sorrento were doubtlessly chock-a-block – another good reason for keeping our travels down to between home and Bunnings.

As we have a very low threshold before we encounter boredom, it wasn’t too long during the weekend before we gave up on our attempts to resist the temptation of the interweb. Naturally, our first port of call was to our own mamwp.wpengine.com; there can surely be nothing better than to read items from other correspondents and columnists.

It is also a healthy experience to read one’s own work, and then to read some of the comments left by loyal Daily Reckoners. You can only imagine your correspondent’s joy when browsing the website on Saturday afternoon that we stumbled across our musings on Telstra/Fairfax from a week or so ago, and the corresponding response form ‘whocares’ of somewhere – we presume – in Australia. The response, or part of it anyway, was to label yours truly as an “idiot!”

Wow! Well, we suppose, technically, the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday is not a holiday. And the Easter break is not supposed to be a ‘season of goodwill’ anyway, so fair game.

So what was it that ‘whocares’ of ‘where-ever’ was complaining about that caused such a reaction? It was, as we mentioned to do with Telstra and its tireless aim of acquiring a media company to further its multimedia interests. Your correspondent made the observation – crazy obviously – that the future for multimedia entertainment is not necessarily as we see things now.

Currently there is a clear definition between print, radio, online and television media. There are few, if any companies that are successful or market leaders in more than one of them. Publishing & Broadcasting has its television, magazines and its online venture with Microsoft, and is probably the exception to the rule.

However, in terms of future visual/online/streaming/demand-led-programming, it is more likely to be those that control the bandwidth (internet) and those that control the content, or at least access to the content that will be king. Any company that can gain access to both of those will have to try really hard in order to not succeed.

‘Whocares’ to quote in full suggests, “You must be joking to think that Ch 10 [Channel 10] is better fit for Telstra… Fairfax is the content provider you idiot.” ‘Whocares’ goes on to say, “Can you please what [sic] content Ch 10 provides! Please I am all ears.”

We are please to respond. Get ready for it. This may come as a complete shock. Sit down if you are of a nervous disposition. And seek medical attention if you have a week heart. Here it comes. <cough>… Channel 10 is a content provider too. In fact, there is a rumour that it provides approximately 24 hours of content per day, every day of the week.

Granted that it is not all their own work. In fact on any given day one would have to look fairly closely in order to find much that Channel 10 produces for itself.

Yet we agree with ‘Whocares,’ Fairfax is also a content provider, and importantly it seems to produce much of its own material. However it is a different type of content provider. Take a look at the Fairfax stable: The Age, Sydney Morning Herald, Financial Review, MyCareer.com.au, domain.com.au, drive.com.au, rsvp.com.au, trademe.co.nz.

It is we agree an admirable collection of titles, many of which are leaders in their respective markets. Yet, in a future world of video on demand, multi-channel sports casting, interactive media, downloading of the latest episodes of The Simpsons, or House, or any other television program, we wonder who may be the best placed to facilitate such a development?

Will it be the broadband internet provider in tandem with a firm that prints and distributes hundreds of thousands of newspapers every day? Or will it be the broadband internet provider in association with a broadcasting company that already has contracts in place with overseas broadcasters enabling them to provide the same content via web enabled television screens?

In truth we have no idea. It is all still pie-in-the-sky stuff. The chances of us being correct are probably not much better than our chances of winning next week’s Tattslotto. Perhaps ‘whocares’ knows something we don’t know about the future.

Kris Sayce
Markets and Money

Kris Sayce

Kris Sayce, dubbed the ‘Jeremy Clarkson of Australian finance’, began as a London finance broker specialising in small-cap stock analysis on London’s Alternative Investment Market (AIM). Kris then spent several years at one of Australia's leading wealth management firms. A fully accredited advisor in shares, options, warrants and foreign-exchange investments, Kris was instrumental in helping to establish the Australian version of the Markets and Money e-newsletter in 2005.
He is currently the Publisher, Investment Director and Editor in Chief of Australia's most outspoken financial news service — Money Morning.

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