Fairfax Media’s New Zealand business has recorded a 7.7 per cent fall in annual earnings, posting ebitda of $55.5m for the 12 months ended June 30, compared with $60.2m the previous year.

Along with other publishing companies, it has seen print advertising revenue shrink dramatically. Despite seeing a 29 per cent growth in digital revenue, Greg Hywood, chief executive of Fairfax described a “weakness in retail, motors and leisure categories. Ongoing cost management delivered a six per cent reduction in operating costs, notwithstanding further investment in digital, underpinning stable margins in the second half.”

On this side of the Tasman, Fairfax has promoted a digitally led strategy, writing down the value of its local mastheads to just $175.2m a year ago.

Hywood said Fairfax New Zealand’s digital revenue had strong momentum with an 11 percent increase in the stuff.co.nz website’s audience to 2.1 million and the Neighbourly website generating a profit in the second half of the financial year.

The wider Fairfax group posted a net profit to A$83.9m ($91m) on a 4.8 per cent decline in revenue to A$1.74b ($1.88bn), turning around a loss of A$772.6m when it further slashed the value of mastheads and goodwill across its Australian and New Zealand operations. Operating ebitda declined 4.3 per cent to A$271.1m.

Fairfax says it will continue with its plans to appeal the Commerce Commission decision turning down its merger application with NZME.

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