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Fairfax, NZME to appeal High Court decision

A New Zealand media merger will be reviewed by the High Court, with an appeal by Fairfax Media and NZME against its decision to uphold the NZ Commerce Commission opposition to the union of the country’s two biggest publishers. In an announcement to the New Zealand Stock Exchange on Monday, NZME confirmed the company and...

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A New Zealand media merger will be reviewed by the High Court, with an appeal by Fairfax Media and NZME against its decision to uphold the NZ Commerce Commission opposition to the union of the country’s two biggest publishers.

In an announcement to the New Zealand Stock Exchange on Monday, NZME confirmed the company and Stuff, Fairfax’s recently rebranded Kiwi business, would appeal the decision.

The merger was initially rejected by the commission in May 2017 as the regulator believed it would lessen competition.

On its initial appeal to the High Court, the publishers argued the decision ignored the scale of the impact digital giants Facebook and Google have had on the media ecosystem.

The latest appeal will focus will on the issue of plurality.

“After careful review and analysis of the High Court’s reasons, the companies continue to believe that the NZCC was wrong in fact and wrong in law to decline clearance or authorisation of the merger,” the companies said in the joint announcement.

“The High Court’s findings increase the range of estimated quantifiable net benefits to the public arising from the transaction to $133 million to $209 million, up from the NZCC’s estimated range of $41 million to $204 million; however the High Court still found that these benefits were outweighed by the expected loss of plurality in the media.”

Neither company has indicated when this appeal will be brought before the courts.

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