Despite being widely expected, the ACCC’s approval of the Nine-Fairfax merger yesterday has drawn some very harsh criticism from multiple angles.
In a statement issued online yesterday, the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) – which urged the ACCC to block Nine’s takeover of Fairfax from the very beginning, said the competition watchdog’s decision was a “body blow to media diversity”.
The MEAA also said the ACCC’s green-lighting was “the forerunner to future mega-deals that will reduce coverage of matters of public and national interest and do untold harm to media jobs”.
“Despite the ACCC’s tough talk about protecting competition and assuring the community that the merger would not simply be waved through, the commission has ignored the concerns raised by MEAA and hundreds of Fairfax and Nine readers and viewers,” it said.
“The merger has been approved without any conditions being attached about editorial independence, protection of jobs or employment conditions, or continued operation of existing mastheads.
“The ACCC found that the merger ‘will likely reduce competition’, but not substantially lessen competition in any market. MEAA does not accept the ACCC’s view that the growth in online news by smaller media companies ‘now provide some degree of competitive constraint’.”
The MEAA said none of the new entrants to the Australian media market have the capacity to conduct journalism at the scale of Nine, Fairfax, ABC, News Corp or Seven West Media.
“Despite the ACCC recognising this, it has chosen not to place any conditions on the merger.”
Meanwhile, former Prime Minister Paul Keating – who said Nine had “the ethics of an alley cat” when the proposed merger was announced – described the ACCC’s decision as “truly appalling” and one that will “poison quality journalism”.
“What the ACCC has done today is effectively skewer major source media diversity in Australia,” he said in a statement.
“A low-rent, news organisation, Channel Nine, will have editorial command of the major print mastheads in the country.
“This will poison quality journalism; but more than that, remove chunks of local specific political issues, normally covered by newspapers, from the political debate.”
Meanwhile, Labor Party leader Bill Shorten condemned the ACCC’s decision to give the Nine-Fairfax merger the green light.
Speaking at a press conference, Shorten said he was “extremely sceptical” of the decision and claims the move will only promote job loss and a homogenised media landscape.
“I am extremely sceptical about the merits of that decision. I’m concerned about jobs which might be lost for working journalists,” he said.
“But I also just want to make this point: condensing media ownership in Australia is not healthy.
“The argument that the Twittersphere and social media compensate for greater concentration of our newspapers and TV stations I don’t accept.
“I appreciate traditional forms of media are under more attack and competition than ever before in the digital age, from social media and a whole lot of different sources, but major newspapers and free-to-air TV still set the news of this country.”
“I am concerned with greater concentration of media ownership in this country; that we will see less competition, more job losses.
“Our newspapers and mastheads in our capital cities are tremendously important in setting the information to the nation, they are still one for the preeminent forms of media and I remain sceptical.
“Very influential parts of our media doesn’t lead to greater competition; it leads to less diversity.”
The competition watchdog began reviewing the deal – which sees Nine shareholders own 51.1 per cent of the combined entity, and Fairfax shareholders own the remaining 48.9 per cent – on 16 August, inviting interested parties to make their thoughts known until 7 September.
Subject to a positive shareholder vote (and subsequent court approval), the merger will be completed on Friday 7 December, with the first day of business as a combined group on Monday 10 December.
The SingularityU Australia Executive Program will take place this may, celebrating leadership at the intersection of the values of humanity and the value of technology. The Elon Musks, Apples and Xeros of the world are taking risks for humanity and creating new technologies that streamline and beautify business operations. They simplify life by providing basic […]
Brisbane media professional and former OMD Australia Account Director Taylor Fielding (pictured) has officially launched TFM Digital. TFM Digital is a specialist media agency based in Newstead which primarily provides media buying services, and strategy development, to businesses chiefly, but not exclusively, within the franchise sector. Prior to the launch of TFM Digital, Fielding spent […]
Judging by the hangovers in the B&T office today you can count yourself damn lucky we even managed this photo thingy.
Launch marketing specialists Five by Five Global have been appointed by FutureFeed to develop their brand, international certification trademark and go to market strategy. The innovative livestock feed ingredient developed by CSIRO, Meat and Livestock Australian and James Cook University uses a specific genus of seaweed, Asparagopsis, which significantly reduces methane emissions in ruminant livestock. […]
Andrew Knowles, partner and co-founder of the corporate communications consultancy Shoebridge Knowles Media Group (SKMG), has won the PR category in the 2021 B&T 30 Under 30 Awards. Knowles received the award at a ceremony in Sydney last night, claiming victory in a highly competitive field that included leading executives from some of Australia’s biggest […]
The AFL is delighted to welcome Therabody as its Official Recovery Partner of the 2021 Toyota AFL Premiership Season. Therabody’s industry-leading devices and research will be integrated into pre-match training and post-match recovery routines to help prevent injuries and help improve overall athletic performance. Therabody will also become the naming partner for the end-of-season AFL […]