A big write-down in the value of Fairfax Media's New Zealand newspapers signals plans to eventually charge people for its online news services, a media commentator says.
The media giant has reportedly slashed the value of its assets by more than 80%, valuing its local newspaper titles at $175 million as at 30 June, down from $950 million a year earlier.
Commentator Russell Brown says the move signals a fresh start for Fairfax with the sale of Trade Me providing cash to repay company debt.
He expects the company will be looking at new ways to start generating income including web-based subscriptions.
He says there is no doubt the company will introduce a paywall in 2013, but media group APN and Fairfax Media will see who goes first.