Competition watchdog greenlights News Corp acquisition of APN News & Media’s ARM

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has said it will not oppose the proposed acquisition by News Corp of Australian Regional Media from APN News & Media.

ARM newspapers

APN News & Media first flagged it was looking to sell ARM in February this year with News Corp successfully submitting a bid of $46.6m in June. The sale was approved by APN shareholders in September.

In February, ARM RM posted a revenue decline of 7%, down from $202.1m to $188.5m.

ACCC chairman, Rod Sims, said: “The ACCC reviewed the acquisition very closely, as News and ARM are the two largest newspaper publishers in Queensland. However, feedback from readers raised very few concerns and suggested there is not close competition between the paid daily Queensland papers publisher by News and ARM.

“ARM’s paid daily regional newspapers focuses mostly on regional and local news and there is limited overlap with The Courier Mail, which focuses on greater-Brisbane, state, and national news. Furthermore, readers are increasingly reading online sources of news, where there are alternatives to News and ARM.”

While the ACCC concluded the acquisition will mean readers in Caboolture/Bribie Island, south-west Brisbane, Brisbane northern bayside, Logan, Tweed Heads and the southern Gold Coast will face “reduced choice” when it comes to community newspapers, the ACCC concluded that “overall, a sufficient range of local news choices and advertising options would remain available in these areas, with Fairfax and independent local newspapers in some local areas, competing online options, as well as local radio news”.

“Although some concerns were raised by small businesses and ad agencies in these local areas, most acknowledged that print advertising was of declining importance and identified other advertising options if News attempted to increase rates,” said Sims.

It is understood that News Corp will axe jobs, fewer then 100, as a result of the acquisition in an effort to secure “back office synergies”.


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