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THE NEWSPAPERS OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA
By the Chairman of Advertiser Newspapers Ltd.
The 'Mail' last Saturday published a statement which calls for some comment. Ordinarily, items of this nature would pass unnoticed, as they are of small concern to
the public. However, as this item seemed to suggest that while News Ltd. was a wholly South Australian owned company, Advertiser Newspapers Ltd. was somehow dominated from outside the State, it is as well to get the record straight. Here are the facts.
'The Advertiser' was purchased in 1929 from the late Sir Langdon Bonython by a syndicate headed by the late Sir Keith Murdoch. The Herald & Weekly Times Ltd.. of which Sir Keith Murdoch was then Managing Director, in vested some of its reserves in the venture. It owns a large block of the ordi nary shares, but not a ma jority. The remaining shares have been widely dis persed among something like 1,300 shareholders. The chairman of direc tors of Herald & Weekly Times Ltd. (Mr. H. D. Giddy) occupies a seat on the Board of Advertiser Newspapers Ltd., and I have a seat on the Board of Herald & Weekly Times Ltd. We are the two mys terious 'directors from Melbourne' referred to by the 'Mail.' . The other directors are Sir Laving ton Bonython, Mr. John Bonython, and Mr. K. A. Wills. All four of us were born in South Australia. The policy of 'The Ad vertiser' is known to all our readers. It is the same today as when the late Sir L a n g d o n Bonython was in sole con trol. It is based upon a profound pride and be lief in South Australia, and the system of private enterprise which has made this State what it is. On more than one occa sion 'The Advertiser' has opposed policies advo cated in the Melbourne 'Herald,' and vice versa No one in Melbourne has ever sought to influence the policy which is laid down by the Adelaide Board, and no one would ever dream of doing so. All the facts given above are well known and would not have been re peated if there had not been an attempt to mis represent them. What is not so well known is that, in the later years of his life, the late Sir Keith Murdoch acquired personally the majority of the ordinary shares in News Ltd.. Those shares are now held by his family company in Melbourne, which is represented on the Board of News Ltd. by his son Mr. Rupert Murdoch, who came to live in Adelaide a few weeks ago. Also on this Board is the Editor-in-Chief, a young Victorian journal ist appointed by Sir Keith not long before his death. These are two estimable young men who will be come good South Austra lians, and they are backed by a staff who will pro duce good newspapers. These facts are men tioned only to put straight the distorted picture pre sented in the 'Mail.'
The decision to produce 'The Sunday Advertiser' as soon as newsprint was available, was reached last year when Sir Keith Mur doch, then in active con trol of News Ltd., was still alive. Sydney had four Sunday papers and Bris bane two, and it was felt that 'The Advertiser,' with its big stake in South Australia, should prepare to extend its own activi ties into this field. These things take a lot of preparation and ar rangements were made for the present editor (Mr H. Plumridge) to travel abroad to study the best Sunday newspapers in the world. It was then that Sir Keith Murdoch died suddenly. Some time later, the Board felt that Sir Keith's death had altered the situation, and that it would be fair to tell his widow of its decision, and give her and her family an opportunity to dispose of their shares if they desired to do so. The approach was on a per sonal and friendly basis The proposal was consi dered and a decision not to sell was reached. All of these facts are irrelevant to the present position. They are re lated only ' because the 'Mail' has sought to sug gest something sinister in the background. There are now two Sun day newspapers published in South Australia, and the public will eventually decide which it prefers. 'The Sunday Adver tiser' did not claim that it would start with a cir culation of 120,000. It had to fix some advertising rate, and said it would, to begin with, charge the ordinary rates applying to 'The Advertiser' less a rebate for each 10,000 be low 120,000. No new news paper expects to begin where it aims to end. As soon as possible after December 31, an audited certificate will be issued giving the net cir culation from the first issue to the end of the year. The 'Mail' has issued a certificate for the first two issues after 'The Sun day Advertiser' appeared when many people were taking both: and had not made up their minds. The real comparison will come in, say, six months. After five weeks, we can say that we are gratified with the measure of sup port we have had as a new paper in the field, and that we face the future with the greatest confi dence. We are certain the pub lic is concerned only with the quality of the news papers which serve it. We shall hope, by giving supe rior service, to win public support.