Video stars in NZ merger fight

Leaders of New Zealand’s news media have fronted their own cameras to argue for a historic merger designed to help publishers to commercially compete with Facebook and Google.

A video series is the centre-point of a submission by NZME and Fairfax NZ to the New Zealand Commerce Commission, which this month indicated it would reject their merger.

Cast in the leading roles are:

  • Michael Boggs, chief executive of NZME
  • Shayne Currie, managing editor of NZME
  • Sinead Boucher, group executive editor of Fairfax NZ and
  • Simon Tong, managing director of Fairfax

The publishers recruited to two experts, too:

  • Sarah Keene, partner at law firm Russell McVeagh and
  • Randal C. Picker, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School

The Commerce Commission says it is concerned with the merger’s impact on competition, media ownership, prices and the plurality of voice.

Ms Boucher said the merger would support the continuation of local journalism by creating synergies through the consolidation of back office functions.

“Diversity is protected by stabilising the business to ensure we can have a lot of journalists around New Zealand,” Ms Boucher said.

Mr Currie, also editor of NZME’s flagship masthead New Zealand Herald, described the merger as a huge opportunity and “one of the few opportunities left in the current environment”.

A public conference on the merger will be held in Wellington on December 6-7.

Fairfax is the nation’s largest print media network, featuring nine daily and three weekly newspapers, 61 community publications, 10 magazine titles and six websites, including stuff.co.nz. It also has a minority shareholding in social media site Neighbourly.

NZME owns eight daily and two weekly newspapers, 24 community publications, six magazine titles, 10 radio stations and 38 websites, including nzherald.co.nz. As well as websites related to its print and radio offerings, NZME owns a number of individual websites such as Grabone, Shop Green and Adhub.

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