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Fairfax, NZME merger in doubt

AAP logoAAP 7/11/2016

New Zealand's competition watchdog says it is likely to oppose the merger of media companies Fairfax and NZME.

In its draft determination, the Commerce Commission said its preliminary view is that it should decline authorisation of the bid to bring together New Zealand's two largest newspaper networks and two largest news websites.

It said the merger would likely substantially lessen competition in a number of markets, including those for premium digital advertising, advertising in Sunday and community newspapers, and would likely lead to a paywall on one of the news websites.

Commission chair Mark Berry said the merger would give one company control of 90 per cent of New Zealand's print media - a level unprecedented in a liberal democracy.

"This would be the second highest level of print media ownership in the world, behind only China," he said.

The two companies also had a significant role in influencing the country's news agenda and a lack of competition would likely lead to a reduction in quality and quantity of reporting, the commission said.

Submissions on the draft proposal are open until November 22 and the final determination is expected in March.

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