Seven West Media’s proposed takeover of The Sunday Times and PerthNow.com.au has been given the green light by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
Purchase of the News Corp Australia title was unlikely to substantially lessen competition for either consumers or advertisers, it said.
SWM chief executive Tim Worner said the “underlying imperative . . . is to place our company in a stronger position to compete with the increasing presence of global content and platform businesses in our market”.
Mr Worner said it was “a once in a company-lifetime opportunity”.
The acquisition of The Sunday Times would allow SWM, owner of Channel Seven and The West Australian, to publish newspapers seven days a week.
The WA market will still be served by rivals such as The Australian, Fairfax Media’s WAtoday.com.au, and an array of local mastheads published by Community Newspaper Group, co-owned by News Corp and SWM.
The ACCC said it had paid close attention to the transition of readership from print to digital, and it had considered the other online alternatives, including ABC News.
Some advertisers had raised concerns about loss of competition.
The watchdog chairman Rod Sims said: “Most of the advertisers we spoke to after publishing the Statement of Issues are spending less on print newspapers than a few years ago and are finding alternative ways of reaching target audiences, including via digital media.”
Mr Worner acknowledged the importance of The Sunday Times and PerthNow.com.au to West Australians and “the great work of News Corporation in growing and building these businesses”.
“(We) are mindful that it was Rupert Murdoch’s second acquisition and dear to his heart. We will be worthy custodians,” Mr Worner said.
Chief executive of SWM (Western Australia) Chris Wharton said the proposed acquisition was “a positive for our audiences and our company”.
“Our integration of Channel Seven Perth, The West and our online businesses into the one media centre is delivering significant results,” he said.
“Perth Now and The Sunday Times deliver audiences complementary to those we are delivering with The West. This agreement will expand our audiences and further enhance the presence of Perth Now and The Sunday Times in our market.”
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