Second UK daily to start Australia online news service

Reuters

SYDNEY, Nov 27 (Reuters) - Britain's tabloid Daily Mailunveiled plans on Wednesday to launch an online site inAustralia early next year, joining The Guardian and increasingpressure on local newspaper publishers Fairfax Media Ltd and News Ltd.

Daily Mail publisher Martin Clarke said he plans to hire 50local journalists, with an editor to be appointed in the nextfew weeks.

The investment by The Guardian and The Daily Mail contrastswith belt-tightening by Australian publishers, which arestruggling with a massive shift online and declining advertisingrevenues.

Fairfax, News Ltd, Rupert Murdoch-controlled News Corp's Australian unit, and smaller rival APN News & Media Ltd have all announced restructures and sweeping job cutsduring the past year.

The Daily Mail's website MailOnline is the world's biggestEnglish language newspaper website with 57.3 million monthlyunique visitors globally, according to comScore.

Around one million of those are in Australia, making it "anobvious market," Clarke said.

"We are going very nakedly for a scale play," he toldreporters.

The Daily Mail's Australian site, a joint venture with NineEntertainment Co's digital arm Mi9, will be free to view, as isThe Guardian.

Providing local content free will likely put pressure onFairfax and News Ltd's paywall models, which are central totheir earnings growth plans.

Clarke said he expected the venture to be profitable "prettyquickly."

The Guardian has built up to a reporting staff of 30,including a handful of high-profile political reporters, sincelaunching six months ago.

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