Minister applauds Fairfax-Nine merger, while ACCC flags review

Federal communication minister Mitch Fifield has lauded the proposed Nine-Fairfax merger as vindicating last year’s media reforms while the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission expects to carry out 12 week public review of the deal, the regulator has announced.

“What this proposition from Nine and Fairfax demonstrates is that our changes to media law are giving the opportunity for Australian media organisations to look at how they can make themselves the strongest they can be,” Fifield said at a media conference.

Federal communications minister Mitch Fifield: “We want to see Australian media still tell Australian stories in Australian voices”

“The whole reason, the whole purpose behind our changes to media law is because we want to see Australian news organisations be strong. We want to see Australian media still tell Australian stories in Australian voices. So today we have this important announcement. It’s now a matter for the shareholder. And it’s a matter for the regulators.

“The company might be called Nine, but the mastheads of the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, the Australian Financial Review – it’s the intention according to Nine and Fairfax that those mastheads continue.

“So what this is about is securing the future of great Australian mastheads: the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, the Australian Financial Review. It’s about ensuring that we have a media environment where we still have Australian journalists reporting our news and we still have Australian voices that are telling our stories across all platforms.”

Opposition communications spokesperson was scathing about the minister’s comments, saying: “The Turnbull Government has been working overtime to undermine media diversity and look after the top end of town at the expense of the public interest in Australia.

“It is beyond belief that the Minister for Communications is out there today boasting that the Turnbull Government supports media diversity.”

The ACCC in its statement said it will launch an inquiry into the competition aspects of the deal once it has received submissions and relevant information from Fairfax and Nine: “The purpose of the public review is to assess whether the proposed merger is likely to substantially lessen competition in any market,” the regulator said in a statement.

“When reviewing mergers in the media sector, the ACCC considers the competition impact on consumers (both readers and viewers), advertisers and content creators/sellers. The impact of technology on the media sector will be a critical part of the competition analysis,” the regulator added.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority said in a brief statement: “Based on the information available, the ACMA considers the merger between Nine Entertainment Co. Holdings Limited (Nine) and Fairfax Media Limited (Fairfax) would be compliant with the media diversity and control rules administered by the ACMA.”


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