2nd April 2020
Today’s printed edition of the Southern Free Times will be the last for the foreseeable future. The current COVID-19 crisis has made it financially impossible to continue to publish a printed edition.
However we do intend to continue to support the community with important local information online. The Free Times online environment is completely free to use and has had a massive increase in audience recently. We understand that many readers prefer the printed copy and we do hope to be back on the streets soon.
The decision was difficult. To cease publication given the Free Times’ 20 years of history is difficult. Our company is a family-owned independent business and we have been lobbying the Federal Government to unlock funds they had allocated to our industry in 2017. The ACCC handed down a report to Government on the digital platforms enquiry in July last year which specifically talked about the important need of this sector of journalism to our communities, yet the Government did not act. The large digital duopoly continue to use publishers’ content to drive their revenues but do not share those revenues with publishers. They are also free from copyright and defamation laws.
Over the last two weeks more than 70 mastheads across the country have announced closures and many more will come if the Government does not move to secure this important fourth pillar of democracy, especially independent free journalism. Sadly we have had to stand staff down and reduce others’ hours significantly as a result of this decision.
Please continue to support the Free Times online environment. We have advertising packages starting from as little as $80 per month and can assist any business with a range of digital options to reach large audiences, even beyond the Southern Free Times readership.
Star News Group Pty Ltd