NZME, Fairfax to appeal rejected merger

NZME and Fairfax Media have declared their intent to take the New Zealand Commerce Commission to court following the rejection of a merger between the two media companies.

In an announcement to the ASX, NZME lodged the notice of appeal to New Zealand’s High Court, stating the Commerce Commission’s determination did not properly consider the current media environment.

The appellants, NZME, Fairfax Media and Fairfax NZ, believe that the distinction between print and online failed to note the increasingly difficult nature of monetisation of content.

The appeal notice states that the Commerce Commission’s belief that the merger would have limited the choices of advertisers in the online media environment is incorrect, listing numerous digital only site such as TVNZ, MediaWorks and RNZ as direct competition.

It also claims the commission did not properly weigh the impact of “platform publishers” Facebook and Google on traditional news media in the determination.

Following the May 3rd rejection, Fairfax chief executive Greg Hywood spoke out against the decision.

“This decision does nothing to address the challenge of the global search and social giants, which produce no local journalism, employ very few New Zealanders, and pay minimal, if any, local taxes,” Mr Hywood said.

“We believe that the NZCC has failed New Zealand in blocking two local media companies from gaining the scale and resources necessary to aggressively compete now and into the future.”

The merger would see NZME’s radio, online and key masthead assets join Fairfax Media’s strong digital website, Stuff.co.nz, and its list of mastheads.

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