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Fairfax gets free rein to take Riverina Media

Wednesday, 19 September 2007
By Print21

ACCC gives the former Rural Press the go-ahead to acquire another swag of regional mastheads.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has announced that it will not intervene in the process on the basis that the deal will not affect the profitability or quality of Riverina Media’s publications which includes the Daily Advertiser, Weekend Advertiser, The Rural, The Area News, The Riverina Leader, The Irrigator and The Senior.

"The ACCC does not consider that the acquisition will allow Rural Press/Fairfax to profitably raise advertising rates or diminish the quality of content for these publications," said Graeme Samuel ACCC chairman.

Failure on behalf of Rural Press to advise the ACCC of the acquisition triggered the investigation. "The ACCC notes that Rural Press acquired Riverina Media Group, prior to Fairfax then acquiring Rural Press," said Samuel. "The ACCC was not informed by Rural Press of the acquisition of Riverina Media before it took place."

Samuels said that the ACCC’s investigation primarily focused on the aggregation of agricultural-related publications in the greater-Riverina southern NSW area.

"Inquiries with industry participants and advertisers indicated that if Rural Press/Fairfax attempted to raise prices above competitive levels in the relevant regional area, existing competitors including small to medium-sized players would be well placed to win clients," Samuels said. "The threat of new entry was also considered likely to act as a constraint on Rural Press/Fairfax." Following this investigation, however the ACCC noted that:  "Significant competition concerns do not exist."

In light of this case, the ACCC warned other companies to inform it before making similar acquisitions. "Companies that do not approach the ACCC first, prior to completing acquisitions that potentially raise competition concerns, are adopting a risky strategy," Samuels said.

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