NATIONAL publisher Fairfax Ltd has launched a Perth-based news website, creating a major new entrant in the local media sector – making Western Australia the most fiercely contested online market. The arrival of Fairfax’s WAtoday website puts the nation’s three key newspaper publishers head to head for the first time in Australia. Fairfax has employed nine Perth-based journalists and several other executive staff to resource the site. The company plans to invest an estimated $4 million to $6 million over three years before the service is expected to become profitable. Fairfax claims to have 188,000 unique visitors from WA visiting its main news sites such as smh.com.au. It hopes to bolster this number significantly with a site dedicated to the state. News Corporation Ltd’s Perthnow site reportedly had almost 530,000 unique visitors last month, while WA Newspapers Holdings Ltd’s thewest.com.au reportedly attracted more than 380,000. WA Newspapers has recently revamped its website and heavily promoted the changes. Fairfax CEO David Kirk said the company had learned a significant amount from the launch of its standalone brisbanetimes.com.au site which is considerably more tabloid-focused than its other digital site. Mr Kirk also pre-emptively doused the perennial question about whether the digital launch would precede Fairfax launching a hard copy daily newspaper in WA. “This is not a precursor to a print product,” he said.
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