“Dumb Mistakes”, Cheaper Ads & The ACCC’s Fine-Tooth Comb: The Latest On The Nine-Fairfax Deal

“Dumb Mistakes”, Cheaper Ads & The ACCC’s Fine-Tooth Comb: The Latest On The Nine-Fairfax Deal
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It’s been a few days since we’ve produced another story around Nine’s takeover of Fairfax, so we’ve decided to bundle the latest of what’s being said on the deal into a tidy little (well, it’s actually pretty big) article for you.

First off, let’s recap what the last member of the Fairfax family to lead the publisher before the brand dissolves in amongst Nine.

Speaking on ABC’s AM radio program, Warwick Fairfax – who is now a corporate adviser – conceded that he couldn’t be objective in commenting on the impending loss of the Fairfax brand, describing the situation as sad.

“But those who worked there probably feel like it stood for something – a sense of quality, independence,” he said.

Fairfax was of course well-known in the 1990s as the media heir who privatised the publicly-listed media company, John Fairfax Holdings Limited in 1987, only for the privatised company to crumble three years on.

However, would the publisher have fared any better if he remained in charge and not fled to the US?

“I don’t view myself as particularly good at running a big company, so I can’t say if I’d been in charge it would have been better,” he said.

“It’s easy to throw rocks and say the Herald and Age should have really held onto the rivers of gold, classifieds, what have you.

“But if you look at some of the major papers around the world, a lot of them missed that boat — the Herald wasn’t the only one.”

Fairfax said that while he thought the privatisation of Fairfax in the 90s was the right thing to do, it obviously wasn’t.

“I made some dumb assumptions and dumb mistakes. You can be well intentioned and still do a lot of dumb things,” he told AM.

Harvey Norman’s CEO predicts cheaper ads

Meanwhile, Harvey Norman boss Katie Page believes the Nine-Fairfax deal is just the beginning of industry mergers, and that this move to consolidation will bring cheaper rates for advertisers.

“I want the industry to become more competitive, as it allows it to offer more competitive advertising rates, she told The Australian.

“Consolidation is an evolution which happens in every industry from time to time, and now it’s the media’s turn.”

As a major advertiser across Nine and Fairfax, Page said the merger of the two won’t change Harvey Norman’s strategy because of their different media offerings.

ACCC to look “extremely carefully” at merger

As for the Nine-Fairfax deal itself, the ACCC has vowed to go over it with a fine-tooth comb, after the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance called for the competition watchdog to block it.

“We are going to look at it extremely carefully. It’s a very, very important issue,” ACCC chairman Rod Sims said in an interview on Perth’s 6PR.

“Ours is a competition view, and so competition in advertising, competition as it affects consumers, but one way it affects consumers is the quality and diversity of their media.

“If you can tie that back to competition, it’s ours [to review].”

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