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Third delay in NZME/Fairfax NZ decision

Thursday, 30 March 2017
By Print 21 Online Article

Corporate regulator the New Zealand Commerce Commission (NZCC) again has pushed back the date for its ruling on the proposed merger of leading news publishers Fairfax NZ and NZME.

In a new submission, the publishers have described the commission’s competition concerns about the proposed deal as ‘backward-looking,” “illogical and incomplete.”

The NZCC says it will need more time to properly consider the “lengthy submission from NZME and Fairfax providing further analysis and expert evidence in support of its merger authorisation application.” The decision date has been pushed back another three weeks from April 11 to May 2.

In its submission – published on the Commission’s website – that addresses a NZCC statement last month, the media companies suggest the regulator is out-of-touch with current economic realities, including “the significant and accelerating decline in print production.”

Fairfax and NZME are clear that there are a number of public benefits arising from the merger, in addition to the synergies themselves, including that:
(a) NZME2 can [redacted], invested in maintaining the traditions of creating engaging and responsible journalism, to be delivered via whatever platform and through whichever mechanism (print, text, video or radio) that people want to access it.

NZME and Fairfax see this as a unique opportunity for New Zealand – New Zealand may be one of the few countries in the world able to [redacted], provided NZME2 is afforded the runway that the merger will allow. The alternative will [redacted] further entrench Google and Facebook as the only digital advertising providers of any scale/audience/data reach in New Zealand.

A backward-looking and, in their view, false, [redacted] focus on “external plurality” of news organisations shareholders, which does not also include proper assessment of all these other public benefits (which were not mentioned in the Draft Determination) will be (and will be seen to be by any international observers) as illogical and incomplete.

In its submission, the publishers released startling figures that outlined the fall of newspaper readership in New Zealand over the past year.

 

The commission’s earlier draft determination in November suggested the regulator would reject the merger because of the impact on diversity of media coverage.

 

 

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