Media union calls on ACCC to reject Nine and Fairfax merger

The union representing journalists and media employees – the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) – has once again called on the competition watchdog to reject the merger between media giants Nine Entertainment and Fairfax on the basis it “contravenes the Australian Competition and Consumer Law”.

In addition to its own protests, the MEAA said the ACCC must listen to community concerns around the market consolidation, claiming 1,147 submissions have been made to the watchdog’s investigation via the union’s portal.

The MEAA holds grave concerns for the proposed merger

The submissions were made via an online tool hosted on the MEAA website after the ACCC invited members of the public to have their say on the merger.

MEAA chief executive Paul Murphy said the volume of submissions to the ACCC via the MEAA far exceeded expectations.

“It’s a sign of how much this takeover is against the public interest that more than 1,100 people felt compelled to send a submission to the ACCC,” he said. “The ACCC must seriously take these views into account when considering whether to allow the takeover to proceed.”

The MEAA – which has been against the merger since it was first announced to market – said the face of Australia’s media would be changed forever and there would be a significant reduction in diversity.

The “cross-platform giant” would reach every corner of Australia, according to the MEAA.

“We also hold concerns about what it will mean for independent journalism, for the future of Fairfax’s metropolitan and 160 community, regional and rural publications around Australia, and for the jobs and conditions of thousands of Fairfax employees,” Murphy said.

“It is disappointing that Nine did not agree to submit the takeover to more rigorous scrutiny by seeking formal authorisation from the ACCC. This would have ensured greater transparency, and forced Nine to address many of the concerns expressed in these public submissions. Nevertheless, the volume of public submissions and the concerns expressed in them are real and cannot be ignored by the ACCC, which should act by rejecting the takeover in its current form.”

The MEAA also has proposals should the merger be allowed to proceed, suggesting Nine guarantee editorial independence and maintain the separation of the organisations’ newsrooms. It also urged Nine to continue all existing employment arrangements and all Fairfax publications for at least three years.

Nine CEO Hugh Marks – who would also be CEO of the new combined entity – has been repeatedly pressured to give Fairfax assurances around newsroom resourcing, product continuation and editorial independence.

He has previously said the editorial independence of Fairfax publications would continue.

Current CEO of Fairfax, Greg Hywood, has previously said the two newsrooms would not combine under the merger.

The 27-page MEAA submission the the ACCC can be downloaded here.

The ACCC is due to deliver its decision on the proposed merger in November.


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