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Trading Post published for last time -

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Trading Post published for last time

Barbara Miller reported this story on Thursday, October 29, 2009 12:34:00

ELEANOR HALL: For more than four decades Australians have been buying cars, furniture, even pets
through it. But today the Trading Post was printed for the last time.

Telstra, which owns the paper, was faced with a huge drop in the number of people placing print
advertisements and has now turned the Trading Post into an exclusively online business.

The founder of the original Trading Post says it's a sad day but even he concedes that the rise of
online classifieds has made it inevitable.

Barbara Miller compiled this report.

(Excerpt from the movie, The Castle)

STEVE KERRIGAN: Ergonomic chairs, four of them.

DARRYL KERRIGAN: What's he want.


DARRYL KERRIGAN: He's dreaming.

(End of excerpt)

BARBARA MILLER: For years the Trading Post was something of an Australian institution, its status
cemented in the 1997 film The Castle.

(Excerpt from the movie, The Castle)


DARRYL KERRIGAN: For jousting sticks? Tell him he's dreaming.

STEVE KERRIGAN: Dad, some guy is selling an overhead projector.

DARRYL KERRIGAN: Nah. Hang on Steve, what's he asking?


DARRYL KERRIGAN: Tell him he's dreaming.

(End of excerpt)

BARBARA MILLER: But the Trading Post has been printed today for the last time. At the end of last
month Telstra confirmed the paper would be abandoned in favour of an exclusively online business.

Industry analysts had been predicting the paper's demise for some time. Harold Mitchell is the
executive chairman of the Mitchell Communication Group.

HAROLD MITCHELL: It's been all over for the Trading Post for quite a long period of time. The
arrival of the digital age in 2000 meant that people were going to move online.

With advertising generally it's now at some 16 per cent of all ad dollars and that's moving
rapidly. And so any printed Trading Post was never going to last.

BARBARA MILLER: Looking back then Telstra paid over $600 million for it in 2004. Was that too much?

HAROLD MITCHELL: Telstra absolutely picked the top of the market, not seeing here the great
structural change that was taking place, and wanted to get into this business which they thought
would continue to grow. It was far too much. In fact $1 probably would have been too much.

BARBARA MILLER: So online advertising making up 16 per cent of the market place right now, where's
that going and what does it mean?

HAROLD MITCHELL: We forecast that within four years it will have got to around 25 per cent. Already
in the UK it has reached that level.

And it will come from the other major media over a period of time as they've changed. So it's
headed for 25 per cent.

This is the greatest structural change in advertising since the beginning, since television arrived
in the early 60s which went from, you know took advertising away from newspapers, magazines and

BARBARA MILLER: Charles Falkiner the founder of the original Trading Post told the AM program back
in 2004 that he was gobsmacked that Telstra had paid $636 million for the publication, saying he
thought the price was a little high.

Today he's philosophical about the death of the paper.

CHARLES FALKINER: It's very sad of course. But having seen the Trading Post itself when I was out
there about a month ago, it's lost all its character I think and become just a big mass of
advertisements. And quite frankly it got away from the nice looking paper that we started and kept
for so many years.

BARBARA MILLER: What do you mean when you say lost all its character?

CHARLES FALKINER: Well the masts for instance had changed. And there was never, the front page was
always clean, wasn't cluttered. And it sort of was a, looked to be a classy publication. But now to
me it's lost it all.

BARBARA MILLER: Do you think though that it was inevitable that with the rise of online classifieds
that a publication like the Trading Post would eventually no longer be printed?

CHARLES FALKINER: Yes I think it's probably in the cards it was going to happen. You know, as Mr
Murdoch said the classifieds are going the way of all flesh so to speak. And I think the print
editions, the writing's on the wall.

I'm sorry it's gone but as you say it's probably inevitable and I wish it luck in their online
endeavours but I hope they improve their website what it was when I last looked at it.

(Excerpt from the movie, The Castle)

DARRYL KERRIGAN: No more guns in the house.

STEVE KERRIGAN: Yeah but he was threatening ya.

DARRYL KERRIGAN: Where'd you get it?


DARRYL KERRIGAN: And what'd ya pay for it?


DARRYL KERRIGAN: What was he asking?


DARRYL KERRIGAN: He was dreaming.


DARRYL KERRIGAN: Get rid of it. Sell it.

(End of excerpt)

BARBARA MILLER: But if he were selling now, Steve Kerrigan would have to do it online.

ELEANOR HALL: Barbara Miller with that report.