Reports in indicate that Australia’s competition watchdog will not oppose Nine Entertainment and Fairfax Media’s proposed merger, in a move welcomed by Nine’s CEO.
The ACCC has stated it will not stand in the way of Nine Entertainment Co and Fairfax Media's proposed merger which will result in a cross-platform media company that will encompass free-to-air television and newspapers.
The merger of the businesses might see them combine by the end of the year.
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) chairman Rod Sims said with the announcement “With the growth in online news, however, many other players, albeit smaller, now provide some degree of competitive constraint,” listing Guardian Australia, The New Daily , BuzzFeed Australiaand Crikey
The journalists' union, Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance, had strongly opposed the merger as "bad for Australian democracy and diversity of voices"
ABC reported in July that Nine and Fairfax were positioning themselves to remain profitable in a world increasingly dominated by digital media.
"The merger will allow them to pool assets, reduce costs and streamline management, to adapt to the changing environment."
Nine will become the majority owner (51%) and run the company.
ABC reported that Nine shareholders will benefit from the effective takeover of Fairfax' most lucrative assets, including the real estate portal, Domain, and its Macquarie Media radio interests saying "Nine will also benefit from access to Fairfax' journalistic assets, such as investigative reporters, which would boost its reputation in the industry."
"The merger could change Fairfax operations, and may well bring an end to its investigative co-productions with the ABC." In the South East we have witnessed the Bay Post merge with the Moruya Examiner and of late extend that merge with the Narooma News as it all falls under a single editor with sharing of the same articles, letters to the editor across the three platforms into what may feel is a bland amalgam diluting the localised news content . With falling sales of hardcopy Fairfax decided to go behind a paywall which has seen the still vibrant and popular Bega News recently adopt as well. There is little doubt that Nine shareholders will be willing to prop up failing regional newspapers not able to cover their own running costs. Once heavily subsidised by their larger metropolitan siblings that financial model might come under greater scrutiny as shareholders look to dump low hanging fruit and retain the top end assets such as Domain of which the regional Fairfax papers still play their role in distribution of it as a weekly insert.