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.
There is an implausibly little government leadership on how this small country survives in the media revolution. National sees the matter, ignores it and seems to be letting the chips fall where they may.
Labour seems focused on its old touchstones of unions and public service broadcasting advocates. However, it needs to concentrate on the bigger structure of a global battle between NZ companies and international players like Google and Facebook. Labour is at interested in the current media upheavals and the danger for consumers of journalism and local content.
The following item reads like a situations vacant advertisement, but appeared in the editorial pages of Stuff. It shows Fairfax is looking at in the bold new era at a time just as its parent company works on a a merger of its New Zealand business with NZME. You might think suggests this hyper-local approach will be an aspect of the new local listed company, which has not yet been formed. Australian owners for the two are not addressing the issue publicly.
“Fairfax Media New Zealand is embarking on an exciting new chapter of hyper-local journalism in our communities – and we are looking for great talent. With a key focus on hyper-local journalism and innovative digital storytelling, we are changing the world of journalism. We want clever journalists and newsroom leaders who want to reach out to their communities, and engage and build bigger audiences.”
Fairfax wants reporters, senior Reporters News Directors – Communities and a Chief News Director and despite the changes ahead. According to the Stuff item:
“We are confident about our strategy. We are also passionate about our newsroom teams and our strength and ability to keep delivering the best news and information to our audiences well into the future. Be part of our new journey. If you are forward thinking and want to stretch your boundaries, engage with local communities and have some fun along the way then get in touch,” the item says.
CAPTION: Sinead Boucher, editor-in-chief of Fairfax New Zealand.
It’s business-as usual at NZME and Fairfax amidst planning for a merged Super-media company. Both are advertising numerous jobs with Fairfax vacancies focused on the current push for its community newspapers. http://www.nzme.co.nz/careers/ https://careers.fairfaxmedia.co.nz/nz/search
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.
Upheavals lie ahead in the media sector with a trading halt on APN shares and a suggested merger of New Zealand assets of APN and Fairfax. Such a move would bring a massive change to the landscape for New Zealand media. It might bring together Stuff and nzherald,co.nz. Fairfax New Zealand owns half the country’s newspapers and some magazines. NZME owns the other half of newspapers and half the commercial radio sector. The other half of radio is owned by MediaWorks.
One industry pal I spoke to suggested that one option would be to have Stuff and nzherald.co.nz branded with one offering with more light and bright tabloid stories, and the other offering more serious fare. I’ll leave you to surmise which site would have the former role and which one the latter.
An announcement on the the break off of NZME from APN is expected soon, and it will be clearer whether the Fairfax merger is part of the deal, But the issue is theoretical at this point, since neither party has spelt out plans. But in my opinion such a change would likely diminish consumer choice and further reduce staffing levels. From a competition perspective, print might not be a big issue as apart from the Sunday newspapers, the two companies’ interests are geographically split.
A new alliance between TVNZ and Stuff means the two are competing together against NZME. The new online video news service starts on Stuff today (Thursday). The joint venture is said to combine TVNZ video production experience with Stuff’s online distribution network. NZME launched a video news venture recently called Focus recently and NZME has also established WatchMe which includes comedy shows.