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Fairfax NZ's revenues and earnings down

NZN 22/02/2017 Rebecca Howard

Sydney-based publisher Fairfax Media says its New Zealand unit's revenue and earnings fell in the first half on the back of ongoing weakness in print advertising revenue.

In New Zealand, where Fairfax's assets have been packaged for a merger with the operations of NZME, earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation were down 6.2 per cent at A$25.9 million versus the prior period, while revenue fell 4.1 per cent to A$159.2m. Advertising was down 9.9 per cent in New Zealand dollars terms to $107.9m, it said. Circulation revenue also fell.

"Weakness in print advertising revenue was partially offset by strong digital growth of 21 per cent and significant expansion in the contribution of events. Circulation revenue declined 8 per cent with volume declines offsetting improvements in yield," said Fairfax Media chief executive Greg Hywood.

Mr Hywood said he continues to expect the New Zealand Commerce Commission to make a decision on the proposed merger of Fairfax NZ with NZME by mid-March.

The commission is due to make a final decision by March 15. The regulator's draft view was that it should reject a merger of NZME and Fairfax New Zealand, which it says would "result in an unprecedented level of media concentration for a well-established liberal democracy" with the potential loss of multiple media voices a major part of the decision.

The news organisations have said a merger would let them build a "real opportunity" to compete with the likes of online ad giants Google and Facebook, which take about 80 per cent of all digital ad revenue, to create a sustainable business that supports local journalism and contributes to New Zealand's tax base.

Looking ahead, Fairfax Media said trading conditions remained muted.

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