It is said that in a crisis a life raft is only supposed to get you from the sinking ship to safety, it is not intended to live in. Ten and even five years ago I would have said that home delivery of newspapers was in a crisis today it is on life support. Very little has been done, whether anything could have been done is a fascinating question, and the answer is probably. What could have helped was more automation as there is a lot of waste in the newsagency distribution system.
Anyway now submissions are being written up now to News Corp is saying from my reading here (link removed) that unless their members get more help, the newsagency state councils are no longer going to recommend their members continue distributing newspapers. To some extent, it does not matter to many of their members who have already given up on home deliveries. I am reasonably sure that News Corp will say the truth to these councils that there is little they can do.
Let me make a few observations
1) I have seen newsagencies decimated when they gave up mistakenly newspaper deliveries as many customers stopped coming. This is particularly true of those in strips.
2) No-one values a newsagency today by the number of newspapers it sells anymore if a newsagency is losing money on home deliveries this loss is subtracted from the newsagency value.
3) Home deliveries are dropping fast; newspaper deliveries should not be looked at as a long-term investment. The big factor here I think is that the big market of the over 65's is slowly dropping out of the newspaper market.
4) There is no excuse for inefficiencies, what there is now is still fairly substantial and can justify more automation. To a newspaper deliverer, Profit = Income - Cost. If the cost can be driven down, the profit goes up.
5) Increased prices which appear to be the councils preferred option to keep home deliveries profitable will drive more customers away quicker. In my experience, every time you do a price rise, it causes people to make a reassessment, and that is something no publisher of newspapers wants now.