The Commerce Commission has pushed back its decision on NZME and Fairfax's proposed merger by almost a month.
The decision on the media merger was due next week but will now be released on April 11. NZME and Fairfax have agreed to the extension, the commission said this morning.
"The extension was required in order for the commission to properly assess and account for the further information it has obtained and received following its draft determination and conference. The commission will not be accepting any further public submissions on this authorisation application," a spokesman for the regulator said.
The competition watchdog said in its draft determination last year that it would decline the application for the merger because it would lead to less media plurality, or diversity of voices.
The media companies have countered by saying it was not the commission's role to make determinations on such issues, and that plurality would suffer more if the status quo were to remain.
Since the draft decision, the media companies and the commission have held a conference where they discussed issues raised by the regulator and provided further information to it.
In their final response to the commission, lawyers for the media firms said differences between those who are for and against the merger was "a contest betwen hard data on the one hand, and wishful thinking on the other".
The lawyers said the parties had submitted extensive data about share of the advertising market, market trends in revenue, synergies, and efficiencies, and accounting expert reports on the logical and necessary conclusions from the data.
"In contrast, a large number of submitters in opposition have presented the commission with their views as to why the businesses have not been successful (although they have not run those businesses in the recent - accelerating - market conditions).
"They have also expressed hope that different combinations of businesses in [the] market might present a better alternative to the proposed merger."
But the lawyers said the proposed merger had not been put to the commission lightly or too early.
"The necessary corollary of that is that it cannot be put to the commission later, because later will be too late."