Media merger decision delayed to next year

Commerce Commission to publish draft determination on NZME and Fairfax deal in November.

Media companies NZME [NZX: NZM] and Fairfax New Zealand will have to wait until March next year for the Commerce Commission’s decision on their merger application.

The commission had been due to publish a decision today but said this morning it has agreed an extension to March 15, 2017.

A draft determination will be published in November, it said, and a public conference will be held in December if needed.

The proposed merger, announced in May, is complex, the Commission said.

The commission is continuing to assess the effects of the proposed merger on areas such as the provision of national, regional and local news content and information, including the impact on the quality, accuracy and range of the news media in New Zealand. In addition, the commission is assessing whether the proposed merger would enable the parties to increase prices to advertisers and consumers.”

NZME and Fairfax NZ publish New Zealand’s two most read news sites – herald.co.nz and stuff.co.nz – as well as most of the country’s print newspapers.

NZME also owns one of the two main radio networks, including Newstalk ZB.

The companies have sought commission clearance for their merger or, if the merger is seen as anti-competitive, authorisation to merge on the grounds that the deal will on balance be good for the country.

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