ACM proposes to close printing facilities in Victoria, South Australia and ACT

Media company ACM says it is consulting with printing employees about a proposal to close four of its nine press sites.

Affected staff at the printing facilities at Wodonga in Victoria, Ballarat in Victoria, Murray Bridge in South Australia and Canberra were briefed on Wednesday morning on the proposed changes.

In a statement, ACM said "economic challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic" had affected "not only our own business but many other publishers who utilised ACM's nine print facilities around the country".

"With the suspension of these external printing clients along with our own product stand-downs, ACM no longer has the volume of printing to warrant the number of print centres in its stable," the statement said.

"Consequently, today we announce that following a review of our operations we have entered into a consultation period with our print site employees at four of our print sites.

"The review is designed to ensure that our printing capacity meets the current needs of the business and is the prudent decision to ensure ACM's ongoing success and its long-term objective of building on its position as Australia's largest regional media publisher."

Dozens of ACM's non-daily newspapers, including The Area News, Goulburn Post, Southern Highland News, Wimmera Mail Times and Port Macquarie News, returned in printed form in July after production was temporarily suspensed due to COVID-19.

Dozens of ACM's non-daily newspapers, including The Area News, Goulburn Post, Southern Highland News, Wimmera Mail Times and Port Macquarie News, returned in printed form in July after production was temporarily suspensed due to COVID-19.

In a message emailed to ACM staff on Wednesday morning, chief executive Allen Williams said the business needed "to position our operations to meet the needs of readers and advertisers, which are increasingly moving to digital".

"These proposals are at early stages and we do not have exact details of proposed closing dates, which may differ across sites," Mr Williams said.

"This has been a difficult process for the business to arrive at, however our view is that this is necessary to ensure the business is meeting the changing trends in consumer and business demands and to ensure the ongoing sustainability of the business.

ACM's 14 daily newspapers were not affected by the temporary suspension of printing of a number of non-daily titles between April and July.

ACM's 14 daily newspapers were not affected by the temporary suspension of printing of a number of non-daily titles between April and July.

"As you know these are changes that some of our competitors have already made. This is a hard time for everyone in the industry."

In its statement, ACM said the rationalisation of printing operations was required "to ensure capacity meets demand".

"The proposed closure of these plants will remove a heavy cost burden and more importantly remove a capacity that is no longer required by our business," the company said.

The result would be a "business model to ensure the sustainable long-term future of our highly valued mastheads".

This story ACM consults with print site staff over plans to stop the presses first appeared on The Canberra Times.