Chief executive Greg Hywood: What does he mean by “the end game ” for Fairfax?
Rejection of the Fairfax-NZME merger has revived speculation about the future of Tv3. In the past, Fairfax was tipped as a possible buyer for the MediaWorks Group, including TV3 (+HR=E) and half the country’s radio stations. Eighteen months ago it made some sense. Fairfax-owns some big newspapers and the Stuff website. Mediaworks owns TV3, but the radio network is much more commercially successful. It has an under-developed digital arm. But the main plus for Fairfax would be there are none of the market dominance issues that bedeviled the NZME deal.
Media industry sources say that the media landscape has changed. Fairfax has bigger fish to fry back home. Does it want really want to hang around and buy into a difficult market in this country?
Advertising has slumped and television ad spend is particularly vulnerable. During merger hearings at the Commerce Commission, Greg Hywood said that rejection of the merger would be “the end game” for Fairfax.
The Polly and Grant show South of Auckland may not continue following Gillespie’s bathroom criticism of NZME. Todd Campbell Content Director The Hits said
Todd Campbell, Content Director The Hits, said: “The Polly and Grant Show is not on air, we are reviewing the events of the last few days, no further comment will be made at this time. In the meantime we will continue to bring the best music from the 90s till now including the chance to see Adele in concert.”
Earlier story. Polly Gillespie’s bathrobe video is a strange belated response to her losing the breakfast show in Auckland for “The Hits” You wonder if there may be more changes ahead at The Hits. When the change of Auckland hosts was announced by NZME on Christmas Eve, Gillespie was on board saying all the things dropped hosts were meant to say. She congratulated Sam Wallace and Toni Street who were to take over the Auckland breakfast show.
Judging by her Facebook video this week, Gillespie is not happy with the outcome. Dressed in a bathrobe and dying her hair, she criticised the move and new restrictions on what she can say in social media. Her contract ends in March.
Asked about plans for her and her co-host Grant Kereama, she told Stuff> “I have no plans to go anywhere else but I’m fairly sure I won’t be re-signing with current employers.
Changes in on-air hosts happen all the time. Auckland ratings for The Hits breakfast show may do better with Wallace, and Street moving from TVNZ. Street will continue in her role as mumsy sidekick to Mike Hosking on Seven Sharp, helping her profile. The attempt to turn Polly Gillespie into a celebrity in Auckland always seemed like a Big Ask..to me, She was very much a Wellington person virtually unknown in Auckland, the biggest market and most competitive breakfast radio market.
Former NZME chief executive Jane Hastings there were extraordinary efforts to promote Gillespie in Auckland. But under MediaWorks programming boss Leon Wratt, the competition has been doing well with Auckland ratings for its music stations.
It is easy to see why NZME was attracted to Street and Wallace with their established TV profiles. NZME has a commercial arrangement to share talent with TVNZ.
It has Hosking on Breakfast at Newstalk ZB nationally and now they will have Street at “The Hits” … in Auckland at least. You wonder if Wallace and Street will eventually go nationwide.
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.
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.
NZME sportscaster Tony Veitch took a drubbing on social media last week for a feature he wrote for the Herald on Sunday. It was part a NZ Herald campaign against domestic violence. Reaction to the self serving article showed that not only have some people have not forgiven Veitch for his attack on his former girlfriend ten years ago, it showed that some never will. Why did he think it was a good idea to cast himself as the redeemed soul?
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.