Nine Entertainment Co. newspapers have signed a six-month trial with the Australian Associated Press (AAP), two years after the media company opted – along with co-majority shareholder News Corp – to shut down the news service .

Nine’s publishing general manager, James Chessell, told Mumbrella that the six-month trial would give newsrooms an opportunity to assess how AAP content might fit in with its subscriber strategies and of hearing.

“I am thrilled to reconnect with AAP at a time of continued change for newsrooms,” he said. “It promises to be a fascinating and interesting project.”

Mastheads from Nine Publishing, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Australian Financial Review, Brisbane Times and WAtoday are re-subscribing to the AAP Newswire for a six-month trial.

ADVERTISEMENT

The re-enlistment moment comes as negotiations with the union over a new deal are stalled by staff demanding a 6%-a-year pay rise, with the threat of a journalists’ strike on the rise, but a spokesman de Nine denied hearing of a stunt.

In March 2020, AAP shareholders including Nine Entertainment and News Corp Australia declared the 85-year-old institution unviable and decided to withdraw their funding. However, at the last minute before the service shut down in June, AAP was bought out by a consortium of impact investors and philanthropists led by former News Corp and Foxtel chief Peter Tonagh.

Prior to its sale and relaunch in 2020, AAP was primarily owned by Nine Entertainment (44.74%) and News Corp Australia (44.74%), with Seven West Media and Australian Community Media as minor shareholders.

News Corp and Nine previously contributed more than $10 million a year, with minor shareholders Seven West Media and Australian Community Media contributing more than $1 million.

The new subscription contract is the culmination of discussions between AAP and Nine spanning several weeks. Mastheads will have access to AAP’s full suite of textual content, with a limited number of AAP Photos images per month also included.

The deal gives Nine’s banners the opportunity to explore how AAP’s content could continue to support their subscription strategy in the future.

AAP CEO Lisa Davies welcomed the return of Nine’s posts to the newswire and said she looked forward to seeing AAP’s journalism again in some of the nation’s most read mastheads.

Davies, now CEO of AAP, was editor of the Sydney Morning Herald’s Masthead Nine, at the time of the previously announced closure.

“AAP is an essential part of the news media landscape, aiming to complement the work of regional and metropolitan newsrooms,” she said.

Chessell remarked to staffers in a memo, “How useful the AAP stream might be will vary from topic to topic. For example, Business could use AAP’s Market Envelopes, freeing up staff reporters to dig deeper into business and consumer news. The sport could use AAP match reports so our reporters can do longer reads.

“In the coming days, newsrooms will receive a briefing from AAP editor Andrew Drummond on their current offering, and topic editors will have access to the account.

“Wire stories will be tagged so we can track performance, but they will also be included in the subject’s TED results for Subway mastheads, so everyone should be strategic about using them. Topic editors will be responsible for the performance of the dispatches they publish,” he said. “After six months, we will make an assessment of our long-term plans based on audience data.”