Fairfax and Nine newsrooms won’t combine: Hywood

The television journalism of Nine and the newspaper/online journalism of Fairfax are too different to combine into one newsroom, the CEO of Fairfax Media, Greg Hywood, has claimed ahead of the proposed merger between the two companies.

Hywood was today pushed by investors on why Fairfax and Nine had thus far been reluctant to be drawn into conversations about “potential synergies” and combining the resources.

Hywood: The processes of Nine and Fairfax are ‘very, very different’ 

Hywood cited Nine CEO Hugh Marks – who would also become CEO of the joint operation should the merger proceed – and said it is not the intention to combine the two newsrooms.

“I think if you look at TV journalism and the process of putting that TV bulletin together, it is a lot different to putting our 24/7 websites and newspapers [together]. So I think that, sure, they’re [Nine] journalism, sure they provide news, but the process is very, very different,” he said.

Hywood said rather than becoming a single, combined entity, the two groups could work together when necessary.

“That is not to say there won’t be co-operation between those groups that will benefit both groups in terms of the use of video in terms of the websites, in terms of co-operation where the masthead stories translate in TV etc.

“So look, there’s a lot … that will deliver over time which will be of benefit to the business, but… the process of journalism in those two groups is different enough not to combine the newsrooms.”

Fairfax today announced what could be its final full-year results under the ‘Fairfax’ name.

Under the proposed transaction which emerged at the end of last month, Nine would take a controlling 51.1% stake in the legacy business, while existing Fairfax shareholders will hold onto the remaining 48.9%.

The company would be called Nine and led by Marks. It is understood Hywood will leave the business.

Hywood and Marks soon after the proposed deal was announced

The proposed deal is subject to approval from shareholders as well as the regulators – including from the competition watchdog, the ACCC.

ACCC chair Rod Sims has indicated the proposal is not a done deal in the eyes of the watchdog, and said the review of the proposal will be “thorough” and “fascinating”.

In its results today, Fairfax announced a $68.3m loss, on the back of costs resulting from its separation from Domain and $36m in restructuring and redundancy costs.

In recent years, Fairfax has shed hundreds of journalism jobs in a bid to save costs and make the business more profitable.

Since the announcement of the proposed Nine and Fairfax deal, the journalists’ union – the MEAA – has sought out repeated assurances that jobs and employment conditions will be protected.

It called on the ACCC to block the merger, saying it would be bad for democracy, diversity, competition and employees.

Nine releases its financial results on Thursday 23 August.


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