It might be overly optimistic. But I am hoping NZME and Fairfax might add a spoonful of sugar to make their merger just a tiny bit more palatable. The sweetener would be some competition to remain. Next week, the Commerce Commission is expected to announce its draft decision on the merger. For hundreds of staff the draft will be an indication about the future should two of New Zealand’s biggest media firms be united into one local company.
Would Mike Hosking be allowed on Stuff as well as TVNZ, Newstalk ZB and the NZ Herald?
Fairfax and NZME are hoping to have the merger of the two New Zealand operation cleared by the end of the year. The two parties will be having preliminary talks with the competition watchdog the Commerce Commission this week. Advertising issues will be central to deliberations. But it is not yet clear what value, if any, the Commission will place the public having choice and access to independent voices. The hope is that the public will get to hear more about plans before they are established. TVNZ chairman Joan Withers said of the merger last week: “This is Big”. New Zealand media will not be the same again.
- How many provincial and community newspapers are likely to be sold or shut down?
- How many people will lose their jobs?
- Will brands like Stuff and nzherald,co nz remain and will they maintain distinct news values?
- Will the mean reducing the number of independent voices and will Fairfax and NZME pull back from sharing opinion-makers with other media like TVNZ?
- Post merger, would Mike Hosking be allowed to be opinion-maker at Stuff as well as at Newstalk ZB, SevenSharp and the NZ Herald?
- Would paywalls be established at one site, both websites or neither?
APN News and Media have confirmed proposals to merge their New Zealand operations into a combined media company. It is planned to go ahead at the end of 2016. If it is goes ahead and is cleared by the Commerce Commission it will mean a virtual monopoly for newspapers, and dominance of the online news sector. A former NZ Herald editor-in-chief, Tim Murphy has said that on past guesstimates the com lined operation would need to retain 2250 or more of the 3000-odd staff . The new entity – jokingly referred to be one Herald wag as F-Me – would have a huge impact on news gathering in this country.