The newswire division of Australian Associated Press is set to continue to operate with new owners.
AAP’s board on Friday confirmed that an agreement was in the final stages of negotiation with a consortium of investors and philanthropists led by Peter Tonagh.
The newswire, slated to close in late June, would now continue operating as AAP and provide breaking news, public interest journalism, sports coverage and news photography.
“I am pleased that, after months of discussions with various parties, it appears we have been able to secure a new home for AAP’s legacy of trusted news,” CEO Bruce Davidson said.
The sale involves only the news division of AAP, including text and photography, which currently provides reporting on general news, courts, politics, finance, racing and sport, plus images and video.
Other parts of the AAP Group will be retained by the current shareholders. This includes Medianet, Mediaverse, AAP Directories, Pagemasters and Racing operations and these businesses will continue to operate as usual.
Greek Australian AAP Journalist Benita Kolovos said she was “so happy AAP will be saved”.
“Our reporters, photographers and editors are generally not household names but since 1935 they have delivered accurate, impartial news to all of Australia. It’s more important than ever that continues,” Benita said on Twitter.
The AAP Journalist added that while half of the news agency will lose their jobs, it is still a “win” for the journalism industry.
The new-look AAP will employ 85-90 staff, including around 70-75 editorial staff, and management, IT and support personnel.
Mr Tonagh said his consortium is committed to independent journalism.
“We live in a time where trusted, unbiased news is more important than ever. AAP has always delivered on that and we are committed to seeing that continue into the future,” he said in a statement.
“I’m looking forward to working with the AAP team to continue its great work and to find new commercial opportunities to ensure its long-term survival.
“On behalf of the consortium that I lead, after consulting with staff, customers and other stakeholders, our consortium will provide more information about our future plan for AAP.”
AAP’s board announced on March 3 the entire operation would close on June 26, citing the financial impact of the increasing availability of free online content. It would have meant the loss of up to 500 jobs.
AAP is currently owned by Nine, News Corp Australia, The West Australian and Australian Community Media.