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Names such as Fairfax, Murdoch and Packer have long been synonymous with newspapers, magazines, radio and television. Their companies grew to be media giants through the takeover or merger of opposing companies. Mastheads such as the Daily Telegraph, The Sun, Daily Guardian, Daily Mirror and Woman's Day have their beginnings in these rival companies. On a number of occasions the Fairfax company itself was threatened by takeover attempts. The Fairfax Media business archive provides plenty of evidence of these complex and at times hostile takeover attempts including those made by the Fairfax company on its rivals as it stragically positioned itself for a greater share of the market.
The archives of one of these rival media companies can be found in the Fairfax Media business archive. Long forgotten and perhaps a name not recognisable by many, Associated Newspapers Ltd, was a major media competitor of the Fairfax company until it was consumed by Fairfax Holdings in 1953. Associated Newspapers Ltd began in 1929 when tobacco manufacturer and owner of Sun Newspapers Ltd, Sir Hugh Denison, merged his company with S. Bennett Limited, a company founded by Samuel Bennett, who ironically, was a former employee of the Sydney Morning Herald in the 1850s. Sun Newspapers Ltd published the Sun, the Sunday Sun, the Daily Telegraph Pictorial, the Sunday Pictorial, the Newcastle Sun, World’s News and Wireless Weekly. S. Bennett Ltd were publishers of the Evening News, Sunday News, Woman's Budget and in earlier times The Empire and The Illustrated Sydney News.
One year after its formation, Associated Newspapers purchased the Daily Guardian from Joyton Smith, owner of Smith's Newspaper Ltd and combined this paper with Daily Pictorial to form the Daily Telegraph. In 1933 the Daily Telegraph then merged with Frank Packer's Australian Women's Weekly to form Consolidated Press.
Denison's interests also extended to wireless broadcasting. He had interests in radio station 2UE and was a managing director of Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Ltd from 1913-1917. In 1938 he founded Macquarie Broadcasting Services Pty Ltd, which include station 2GB among 14 other stations. Dension remained Chairman of the company until his death in 1940 and was succeeded by Sir John Butters.
In 1953 the Packer owned company, Consolidated Press, offered to buy the ordinary shares of Associated Newspapers Ltd but were denied by John Fairfax & Sons, which, fearful of the threat that such an acquisition would pose to their existence, beat Packer to the prize. It was a major acquisition that immediately increased the size and power of John Fairfax & Sons Ltd requiring it to restructure and move to larger premises.
John Fairfax & Sons Ltd acquired the company and with it the records of Associated Newspapers Ltd. These company records include a complete set of the minutes to the meetings of the Directors of Associated Newspapers Ltd as well as correspondence files of the Chairman of the company. The records cover the company's involvement not only in newspapers but also in radio, including Macquarie Broadcasting and 2GB, as well as newsprint company Australian Newsprint Mills Ltd. Also in this archive are 20 boxes of legal agreements, deeds, leases, contracts and other legal instruments relating to the operation of Associated Newspapers Limited.
This archive within an archive provides another perspective of the media world, as a rival company to Fairfax until its eventual absorption into the Fairfax media empire.
Peter Arfanis, Project Lead, State Library of New South Wales, 2017
Gavin Souter, Company of Heralds (1981)
Bridget Griffen-Foley. Associated Newspapers Limited companion entry https://www.austlit.edu.au/austlit/page/9308667