NEW DIVIDEND POLICY ANNOUNCED by smx43008

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									               RURAL PRESS LIMITED
               ABN 47 000 010 382
               _______________________________________________________________________________

                                                                                           February 10, 2005


                        ANNOUNCEMENT TO THE AUSTRALIAN STOCK EXCHANGE

                          Half Year Profit Announcement - December 31, 2004

            RURAL PRESS LIFTS HALF YEAR UNDERLYING NET PROFIT
                     BY 30% TO A RECORD $54.7 MILLION


                              NEW DIVIDEND POLICY ANNOUNCED
             ________________________________________________________________

GROUP RESULT                                  December              December               Change
                                                2004                  2003
                                    Underlying      Reported        Reported       Underlying    Reported

Revenue ($m)                          294.5           294.5           251.7         +17.0%        +17.0%
EBIT                                   83.8              83.8          64.9         +29.1%        +29.1%
NPATM ($m)                             54.7              58.4          42.0          +30%         +39.0%
EPS (ordinary shares) (cents)          26.5              28.3          20.6         +28.6%        +37.4%
EPS (Preferred shares) (cents)         29.1              31.1          22.6         +28.6%        +37.4%
Dividend Per Share
   First Interim – ordinary            13.0                           9.0 ¢                       +44.4%
   Interim – Preferred                 14.3                           9.9 ¢                       +44.4%
   Second Interim – ordinary
   (new)                                6.0                            Nil
   Second Interim – Preferred
   (new)                                6.6                            Nil

The Board of Rural Press Limited today announced a record half year net profit after tax and outside equity
interests of $58,446,000, an increase of 39 per cent over last year's record profit of $42,028,000. Excluding
a one off tax gain arising on the introduction of tax consolidation amounting to $3.7 million, the company’s
net profit increased by 30 per cent to $54,678,000.

The result was driven by its Australian publishing and printing operations, demonstrating the strength of the
economic conditions in regional and rural Australia. The 2004 result included one additional week of
trading over the prior corresponding period.

Highlights of the half year result of the diversified metropolitan, regional and rural media company were:

     •   Revenue increased by 17 per cent to $294,500,000
     •   Underlying net profit increased by 30 per cent to $54,678,000 after tax and minorities
     •   A new and additional second interim dividend of 6 cents per ordinary share and 6.6 cents per
         Preferred share introduced, payable in June, 2005, and each year thereafter.

Rural Press Limited Chairman, Mr. John B. Fairfax, AM said that the Board was particularly pleased with
the overall result, and especially with the Australian advertising volume growth of 9 per cent on the prior
period. Mr. Fairfax also acknowledged the management and staff had again demonstrated their ability to
achieve growth from the existing media assets combined with successfully integrating the latest acquisitions.
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Ignoring the benefit of acquisitions, on a like-for-like basis the revenues increased by 10.0 per cent and the
underlying net profit after tax increased by 20.0 per cent.

Shareholders will be rewarded, with a 44.4 per cent lift in the first interim dividend to 13 cents per share and
14.3 cents per share on ordinary and Preferred shares respectively. In addition, a new second interim
dividend will be introduced of 6 cents per ordinary share and 6.6 cents per Preferred share. All dividends are
Fully franked.

OPERATIONS
Agricultural Publishing operations in Australia continued to improve with strong volume growth,
particularly in national and property advertising categories. Results in the Regional and Metropolitan
publishing operations were also very pleasing, driven by advertising volume increases in motor vehicle, local
and classified categories.

Contributions from the company’s web fed printing operations increased due to growth in external revenues.
The establishment of the new printing facility in Mandurah, Western Australia, is on schedule and will be
commissioned in February 2005. Major upgrades at the North Richmond, Ballarat, Canberra and Port
Macquarie press sites are nearing completion.

The company’s radio broadcasting operations posted a satisfactory gain in profit largely due to the improved
performance in the Ipswich station.

Our Tasmanian acquisition, Harris & Company, has proved to be a worthy asset, and continues to show
improved results.

In December, 2004, the company acquired the Moree Champion (NSW), the Goondiwindi Argus (Qld), and
the Devonport Times (Tas). Earlier in the half, the company acquired the Hepburn Shire Advocate (Vic) and
the Senior Post (WA). As with all its acquisitions, the company is confident that they will be worthy
additions to the Rural Press stable.

Offshore, the New Zealand agricultural publishing operations performed well in an ever-cautious
agricultural market with higher levels of competition. The US agricultural operations posted modest gains in
a crowded agricultural advertising market. Farm Progress launched a new publishing strategy late in the half
with positive feedback from readers and advertisers.

DIVIDENDS
The Board has reassessed the company’s dividend policy with the aim of returning more franked credits to
shareholders and also increasing the proportional payout with interim dividends.

Accordingly, it has declared an increased first interim dividend of 13 cents and 14.3 cents on the ordinary
and Preferred shares respectively. This represents a 44.4% increase over the previous year.

In addition, whilst not altering the overall annual payout ratio for the first interim and final dividends
combined of approximately 70% of after tax profits, the Board has decided to introduce a second interim
dividend of 6 cents and 6.6 cents on the ordinary and Preferred shares respectively payable in June of each
year. Details of payment dates are provided below.

The company will continue to pay a third interim dividend of 10 cents and 11 cents per share on the ordinary
and Preferred shares respectively, but will do so in September of each year. The final dividend will continue
to be paid in November each year.

Dividend Details                                                               Payment Date Record Date

        First Interim Dividend             Ordinary          13.0 cps          4 March 2005     18 Feb 2005
                                           Preferred         14.3 cps
        Second Interim Dividend            Ordinary          6.0 cps          3 June 2005       25 May 2005
                                           Preferred         6.6 cps

On this occasion, the second interim dividend will not be one to which the Dividend Reinvestment Plan will
apply.
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OUTLOOK
Trading in Australia and New Zealand for the first five weeks of the second half was ahead of internal
targets and last year. January is a difficult month on which to base predictions, as no clear patterns have
emerged. In the USA, January trading had been below expectations. Nevertheless, Directors expect the
company result for the June, 2005 half to show growth over the prior year, but it is unlikely to be at the same
rate as that achieved in the first half.


For further information please contact Brian McCarthy on 02 4570 4827

								
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