a media industry resource

Rural Press Group: history


This chronology is indicative only.

It includes highlights from the more detailed history of the John Fairfax & Sons group.

Context is provided by the broader communications and media timeline.

Founding Fathers

1828 John Fairfax launches Leamington Spa Courier in UK, subsequently emigrates to Australia

1831 Ward Stephens, William McGarvie and Frederick Stokes start The Sydney Herald

1841 John Fairfax and Charles Kemp buy The Sydney Herald from Frederick Stokes

1842 Sydney Herald becomes The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH)

1844 Fairfax launches Shipping Gazette

1851 Ebenezer Syme assists publisher of the Westminister Review

1853 Ebenezer establishes short-lived Diggers Advocate in Victorian goldfields

1853 SMH becomes first Australian newspaper printed with steam

1855 Illawarra Mercury founded

1856 John Fairfax & Sons established when partnership is formed with John and sons James & Charles

1856 Ebenezer and brother David Syme buys The Age and start The Leader

1860 Ebenezer Syme dies aged 34, David halves price of paper

1868 Syme buys Melbourne Herald

1870 Fairfax's Afternoon Telegraph expires within year

1872 first Reuters news arrives at SMH

1876 Newcastle Morning Herald launched by James Fletcher

1876 David Syme writes Outline of an Industrial Science

1878 David Syme and Ebenezer's heirs for David Syme & Co

1881 David Syme writes Representative Government in England

1881 David Syme writes vitalist tract On the Modification of Organisms

1887 Francis Hannan (1854-1907) opens butcher shop in Randwick

1899 The Sydney Morning Herald evening edition established

1908 David Syme dies, company controlled by trust

Next Generation

1910 The Sun launched as broadsheet

1916 John Fairfax & Sons becomes John Fairfax & Sons Ltd

1926 Shakespeare founds Canberra Times

1934 Fairfax buys Home and Art in Australia

1934 Norman Hannan establishes family’s first newspaper, Randwick District News

1935 Australian Associated Press formed

1937 group becomes John Fairfax & Sons Pty Ltd

1947 The Sun relaunched by Fairfax as tabloid

1948 Syme trust becomes public company

1949 Sunday Herald launched


1951 The Australian Financial Review launched as weekly

1952 Woman's Day sold to Herald & Weekly Times

1953 Fairfax becomes publisher of Sydney Sun newspaper

1953 Sunday Herald and Sunday Sun merge to form The Sun-Herald

1956 Fairfax buys Woman's Day and Associated Newspapers

1957 Fairfax-controlled television station ATN 7 goes live

1958 Hannan buys Double Bay Courier

1960 Fairfax and Packer's Consolidated Press establish Suburban Publications

1961 Hannans form joint publishing venture with a company jointly controlled by Packer's Australian Consolidated Press (ACP) and Fairfax Suburban Publications, merging five competing papers into three

1961 Fairfax buys 45% stake in Newcastle Morning Herald and Newcastle Sun

1966 Fairfax acquires a stake in David Syme & Co

1968 Hannanprint formed; Hannan group acquires first web offset press

1969 Fairfax acquires South Coast Times, publisher of Illawarra Mercury

1969 Canberra News launched (closes 1974)


1970 Fairfax buys 25% of The Land group, subsequently increased. Land later becomes heart of Rural Press

1971 National Times launched

1972 Fairfax increases stake in David Syme to over 50%

1978 Fairfax acquires full ownership of Newcastle Herald and Macquarie Broadcasting Holdings radio group

1979 Fairfax buys 14.9% of Herald & Weekly Times. Murdoch takeover bid unsuccessful but News subsequently gains control

1981 Business Review Weekly launched as a magazine (previously an insert in The National Times)

1983 Hannans launch FPC magazine publishing division with acquisition of leisure and special interest magazines from Packer's ACP Publishing

1987 Hannans establish Newsagents Direct Distribution (NDD)

1987 Hannans buy Champion Communications direct marketing products

Failed privatisation

1987 Murdoch sells HSV-7 to Fairfax for $320m

1987 Fairfax sells Seven Network stations to Christopher Skase's Qintex group

1987 Warwick Fairfax Jr launches $2.25 billion privatisation bid, rest of family sells, new board installed

1987 John B Fairfax and Tim Fairfax emerge with cash and half of capital of Rural Press and Courier newspapers. Courier later merges with Hannan family's Independent Newspapers to form Independent Print Media Group (IPMG)

1987 Fairfaxes take stake in Cambooya Investments

1990 Warwick sacks board to become CEO and chairman

1990 Fairfax put into receivership, ending relationship with family

1990 Hannanprint acquires Macquarie Print (web offset printer with 3 plants in NSW, Victoria and SA)

1990 ENT sells 60% of Launcestor Examiner to Rural Press group and 40% to Harris & Co (publisher of Burnie Advocate) for $28m

1992 Cambooya floated

1993 Erich Beecher's Text Media establishes Sydney Weekly (later sold to IPMG). Text Media acquired by Fairfax in 2003

1995 Hannan acquires all shares in publicly listed Inprint, with offices in Sydney and plants in Brisbane and Cairns

1996 Hannan acquires all shares in controversial Offset Alpine Printing, The Pot Still Press and Sinnott Bros

1997 Hannans establish Project Management Group (now PMG Solutions)

1997 Hannans acquires Craft Printing in Sydney

1998 Independent Print Media Group (IPMG) formed through merger of Hannan interests and Courier newspapers

And after

1998 most Rural Press radio interests sold - primarily to DMG for $88m

1998 Canberra Times acquired from Seven tv network proprietor Kerry Stokes for $160m

1999 forms Star Broadcasting Network as 50.1% owned joint venture with Unitel Corporation

2001 Cambooya merges with Milton Corp

2000 Fairfax stake in VisionStream tv advertising sold to POS Media

2000 Haymarket IPMG Group formed as joint venture between IPMG and UK publisher and event organiser Haymarket Worldwide

2001 merger of IPMG and PMP forbidden by Australian Competition & Consumer Commission

2001 Rural buys Bendigo Advertiser and Wimmera Mail-Times from INL

2003 buys 49.9% of Star Broadcasting Network from partner Media Corp

2003 sells 50% stake in IPMG to Hannan family interests for est $200m

2003 buys Tasmanian publisher Harris & Co for $47.6m