New Zealand Herald owner NZME has confirmed it is in discussions in relation to a potential acquisition of Stuff.
In a note posted to the sharemarket today, NZME said it was in talks with Stuff owner Nine and that it had put a proposal to government regarding a possible transaction.
However, NZME noted that the discussions were still in the preliminary stages and the parties were yet to come to a final decision.
The NZX note follows on from a Stuff news report suggesting that the talks include a proposal for a "'Kiwishare arrangement, similar to that last used by the Crown to protect free local calls and fixed phone line rentals when Telecom was privatised in 1990."
The Commerce Commission previously rejected NZME and Stuff's attempts to merge in 2018, citing the importance of retaining media plurality as a major concern.
It is understood that a Kiwishare arrangement could protect regional papers across both Stuff and NZME, thereby lessening the plurality concerns.
The pressures on local media have only increased since the Commerce Commission first made its decision.
The widely reported issues facing MediaWorks are the latest example of the struggles local companies face in competing with global juggernauts Google and Facebook for advertising dollars.
MediaWorks is currently looking to offload its TV arm and there have been concerns that the station may need to close down.
There has been consolidation in the magazine industry, with Woman's Day publisher Bauer recently acquiring New Idea publisher Pacific Magazines. It's further understood that Bauer is looking to offload its entire magazine portfolio to private equity company Mercury Capital.
We've also seen other consolidation, with Nine acquiring Fairfax (and Stuff), QMS buying a stake in MediaWorks and Seven's recent purchase of Prime.
And the trend only looks set to continue with reports last week suggesting that TVNZ and RNZ may be disestablished to create a single public broadcaster.