Media chief looks at options after watchdog shoots down merger

By Staff reporter

Michael Boggs disappointingly said that the merger had been an exciting prospect for both businesses and their audiences. Photo / Marty Melville
Michael Boggs disappointingly said that the merger had been an exciting prospect for both businesses and their audiences. Photo / Marty Melville

NZME chief executive Michael Boggs said the company is considering its options after the Commerce Commission rejected its proposed merger with Fairfax.

A disappointed Boggs yesterday said that the merger had been an exciting prospect for both businesses and their audiences.

He said NZME's strategic focus continued in six key areas: growing audience reach, retaining print revenue, returning radio revenue to growth, growing new revenue streams, ensuring effective cost management and developing people and talent.

NZME owns the NZ Herald, Herald on Sunday, nzherald.co.nz website, a range of regional newspapers, Newstalk ZB and entertainment radio stations, while Fairfax owns stuff.co.nz, the Sunday Star-Times and other metropolitan and regional newspapers. The companies wanted to merge as traditional revenues decline so they could better stand up to the likes of Google and Facebook, which are taking an ever increasing share of the online advertising market.

The commission, in a draft decision last year, said the merger would be likely to substantially lessen competition - specifically in Sunday newspapers, online news and community newspapers in 10 regions.

It also believed, at the time, that it wasn't of enough public benefit that it should be allowed. The commission in its final ruling said yesterday that those views remain unchanged.

Commission chairman Mark Berry said the regulator recognised that NZME and Fairfax face a "challenging commercial environment".

But the regulator disagreed with some of the scenarios put forward by NZME and Fairfax about their respective futures without the merger.

"This level of influence over the news and political agenda by a single media organisation creates a risk of causing harm to New Zealand's democracy and to the New Zealand public," Berry said.

- NZ Herald

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