Pacific Media Watch

12 May 2016

NZ: Media merger proposal stirs concerns for media freedom

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Fairfax New Zealand and NZME ... a future media marriage? Image:

AUCKLAND (Otago Daily Post/ Newstalk ZB/ Pacific Media Watch): Fears have been raised about a proposed merger of NZME and Fairfax New Zealand - the two news companies that own most of newspapers and private radio stations - and the effect it could have on New Zealand's media.

In news reports by The Otago Daily Times and Newstalk ZB, Labour commerce spokesman David Shearer said he had concerns over New Zealand’s media freedom if the merge went ahead.

"I can't see any good coming out of merging this so that we have effectively one newspaper network for the entire country.

"It puts an enormous amount of power in the Fourth Estate into the hands of very few people and I hope the Commerce Commission sees it that way.

"Going on past records, I'm not that confident.”

According to Newstalk ZB, the merger would include national news agencies such as the New Zealand Herald, Dominion Post,,, Radio Network and some regional newspapers.

APN chief executive Ciaran Davis said in an interview with Newstalk ZB that the "combination of these two businesses would provide the necessary capability to continue investing in high-quality local news, sport and entertainment at a time when advertiser commercial investment continues to fragment across international media platforms that do not invest in local content".

On the other hand, the Otago Daily Post has quoted Green Party MP Gareth Hughes, who said: "The proposed merger was bad news for a broad media environment and showed there was a need for regulation to oversee media ownership issues."

Hughes said a diverse and competitive media environment was important for democracy and the Commerce Commission was not allowed to consider issues such as the unique role of media companies.

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Pacific Media Watch

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