A key signal indicating if a merger between New Zealand’s two biggest news media companies might go ahead is expected in November.
The nation’s Commerce Commission promised a draft determination by early November on whether NZME and Fairfax NZ can join forces, followed by a full decision on or before March 15.
The draft determination is expected to outline if the merger might substantially lessen competition and harm public benefit.
Further submissions – on top of the 50 already received – can be made in response.
“The proposed merger is complex and involves two-sided markets – advertisers on one side and consumers (readers) on the other,” a commission statement said.
It said it was assessing the impact on national, regional and local news content and information, and whether both parties could “increase prices to advertisers and consumers”.
Public submissions have expressed concerns about the reduction of independent views, job loses and the establishment of a near monopoly.
NZME and Fairfax hit back at these concerns earlier this month, arguing the monopoly claims were unfounded. They claimed the small number of submissions indicated advertisers and suppliers were not worried.
A joint-publisher statement this week said: “As set out in their recent cross-submission, NZME and Fairfax do not believe anything in the public submissions filed by interested parties undermines the key arguments made in the original application, which support a clearance or authorisation being granted.”
Fairfax operates 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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