The much-touted possible merger between Nine Entertainment Co and Southern Cross Media remains in the pipeline after a decision on whether to abolish audience reach rules was delayed.
The controversial 75% media ownership reach rule, a key ingredient of the Federal Government’s media reforms affecting ownership in regional areas, will not be passed until early April.
The joint parliamentary inquiry into the media reform package will consider public submissions on the effects of removing the reach rule until April 5.
The committee said it was not in a position to provide a report before that date.
The news comes after Communication Minister Senator Stephen Conroy did a backflip last week that he would not negotiate on the reforms. Following a fierce backlash from media interests, Conroy said he was willing to talk to independent MPs regarding the reforms.
Last week B&T reported that the possible merger between Nine and Southern Cross was moving a step closer to reality, with the reforms expected to include a relaxation of the 75% reach rule.
On Monday at the joint committee meeting into the media reform laws, Nine chief David Gyngell (pictured) said removing the 75% media ownership reach rule would improve the quality of regional TV news.
Gyngell was one of six TV executives who fronted a 10-member parliamentary committee brought together to scrutinize the removal of the rule.
Meanwhile, Southern Cross Media shares (SXL) were this morning trading on the ASX at $1.55.
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