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West boss backs future of newspapers
West boss backs future of newspapers

Seven West Media's WA chief has echoed News Ltd in dismissing the pessimism about newspapers in some quarters as premature.

Chris Wharton said _The West Australian _remained "the heart and soul" of Seven West Media's WA business and "has a lot of good years ahead of it".

News Ltd boss Kim Williams yesterday dispelled some of the gloom shrouding the short-term future of Australian newspapers in the wake of Fairfax Media's announcement on Monday of a dramatic overhaul, insisting "we believe in print and are committed to print".

Fairfax plans a number of major changes to meet declining print revenues, including the closure of major newspaper printing presses, and an accelerated expansion of its digital news business.

However, Mr Wharton said "for us, it's still print dollars and digital dimes", with _The West Australian _ expected to generate the lion's share of the group's WA revenue into the foreseeable fututure.

"You can't make the same sort of margins in the digital world at the moment as a newspaper company," Mr Wharton said.

Seven West Media is adamant it will not be rushed into introducing paywalls, preferring to wait and evaluate the success of the various models now in use around the world. "We have plans but we don't feel inclined to disclose them," Mr Wharton said.

Like its rivals, Seven West Media has been hit on the sharemarket by the tough advertising environment, the stock hitting a record low of $2.02 yesterday. "We think we are doing better than the share price reflects," Mr Wharton said.