Seven West Media

Reading last year’s Seven West Media annual report leads one to a few subjective conclusions. Most pressingly is that there seems insufficient recognition—at least in its communication with shareholders—of the structural threats facing all of its major business operations. Management refers to a ‘challenging market’ and ‘difficult trading conditions’ when discussing the results. But there’s no real discussion of the very real structural headwinds faced by the various forms of media in its portfolio—particularly newspaper and magazine publishing but also, increasingly it seems, broadcast television. With very few exceptions globally, ‘old media’ businesses that make a living from advertising are facing declining revenues and earnings. Earnings before interest and tax for all three of Seven West’s divisions fell, not that you'll see it spelled out in the glossy part of the annual report. For the record, in the year ended 30 June 2012, EBIT from television fell 15% to $291m, EBIT from newspapers fell 17% to $116m and EBIT from magazines fell 9% to $40m. On a pro-forma basis (ie, assuming that West Australian Newspaper Holdings and Seven Media Group were already merged for the entire preceding period), overall group EBIT fell 14% to $473m.

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