THERE is an air of expectation that WA Newspapers Holdings Ltd will be offering the market a fresh sense of direction after the turbulence of the past year. With the board having beaten off Kerry Stokes’ Seven Network Ltd but sustaining collateral damage in doing so, there is anticipation that a new board appointment will defuse that row soon. But, as media sector shares take a battering, some want to see the country’s biggest regional player step up, especially with national rivals using online news to compete across the Nullarbor. BBY Securities media analyst Mark McDonnell is one who believes WA Newspapers needs to make a strong declaration of where its heading, possibly as soon as its annual results. “They are a large domestic publisher, they need to be seen to be doing a little bit more than just talking about it [the web] as a longer term development option,” Mr McDonnell said, who recognises the huge diversification that bigger players like Fairfax have successfully carried out. Recent board candidate Peter Abery is another who believes WA Newspapers must communicate better with shareholders about its direction. Mr Abery said he is surprised that WA Newspapers had been silent on what was happening with regard to the board but is more concerned about it offering more on its strategic direction, preferably at the next annual meeting. “Markets for media and marketing are changing,” he said. “Unless The West develops and implements a sensible strategy it will find itself in the situation where revenue doesn’t climb, it may even decline.”
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