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ACCC review into Nine Fairfax merger will be ‘thorough’: Rod Sims

The chair of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), Rod Sims, has said the watchdog will draw on insights from the digital platforms inquiry when investigating whether or not to approve Nine’s takeover of Fairfax.

Sims also said despite the confidence of both Fairfax and Nine that the proposed merger would be approved, the review would be ‘thorough’, with phase one set to take 12 weeks.

Nine and Fairfax are confident the deal will be approved

Sims was speaking at the Law Council of Australia Annual General Meeting and said he was looking forward to the merger review.

“This will be a fascinating review given the considerable changes affecting traditional media in recent years,” Sims said. “Significantly in this matter, we will have the benefit of considerable insight into these changes from our digital platforms inquiry.

“The merger parties [Nine and Fairfax], can see no competition issues here. We will see what unfolds when we begin our assessments. We have indicated a 12-week phase one timeline so our review will be a thorough one.”

Sims said its digital platforms enquiry – which will look into whether digital platforms such as Google and Facebook have market power in their dealings with media content creators and advertisers, and the implications of this for competition, as well as how technological advancements and digital platforms have changed publishers’ abilities to create quality news and journalistic content – had implications which would stretch beyond Australia.

“These are not merely issues that impact Australian media and consumers; they are also global issues,” he said.

“Our work here will focus on improving transparency, assessing potential breaches of the CCA [Competition and Consumer Act 2010] and, crucially, making recommendations to government.”

The digital platforms inquiry was initiated last year off the back of deals the government agreed to in order to pass its media reforms package.

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