Thursday, 08 November 2018 10:21

ACCC gives green light to Nine-Fairfax merger

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ACCC gives green light to Nine-Fairfax merger Pixabay

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission will not oppose a proposed merger between Fairfax Media and Nine Entertainment announced in July.

In a statement on Thursday, the ACCC said it had examined a number of markets that would be affected by the proposed merger. Australian news, including online news, current affairs news and investigative journalism, was the key issue on which it focused.

The competition watchdog said it had looked at whether the merger would substantially lessen competition in the sector. More than 1000 submissions were examined, in addition to internal documents that the ACCC obtained from both companies.

“While the merger between these two big name media players raised a number of extremely complex issues, and will likely reduce competition, we concluded that the proposed merger was not likely to substantially lessen competition in any market in breach of the Competition and Consumer Act,” ACCC chair Rod Sims said.

“This merger can be seen to reduce the number of companies intensely focusing on Australian news from five to four. Post the merger, only Nine-Fairfax, News/Sky, Seven West Media and the ABC/SBS will employ a large number of journalists focused on news creation and dissemination.

“With the growth in online news, however, many other players, albeit smaller, now provide some degree of competitive constraint. These include, for example, The Guardian, The New Daily, Buzzfeed, Crikey and The Daily Mail.

“While there are important barriers to building trust and scale, significant new entry into the Australian online news market has already occurred and made a noticeable difference. Due to the difficulties in monetising journalism online, however, it is hard to predict the future landscape with any certainty.”

The ACCC said it had also looked at potential competition issues in provision of regional news, specifically concerns about combining two key newsrooms in the Hunter/Newcastle region. It determined that in this region, Fairfax and Nine did not compete sufficiently closely with each other.

“The ACCC recognises there will likely be changes to the way Fairfax and Nine operate in future, either due to the changing media landscape more generally or due to the merger itself. However, we reached the conclusion that if such changes do occur, they would not be, to a significant extent, caused by the merger lowering the level of competition,” Sims said.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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