JMAD New Zealand media ownership report 2016

1 Dec 2016

This JMAD New Zealand media ownership report observes that New Zealand media institutions are facing major changes in ownership and management, but it is not clear what combinations will eventually emerge.

For the first time in six years, New Zealand media companies are exclusively owned by financial institutions. Media moguls and News Corp have sold all their shares in New Zealand media companies. The report also finds that the board structures of New Zealand media corporates favour further consolidation. This is not surprising, as many board directors have other directorships in financial institutions and corporate advisory businesses.

In November, the Commerce Commission declined its preliminary merger approval of NZME & Fairfax. Unexpectedly, the commission stated in strong terms that the merger would give the combined company too much editorial and commercial power in print and digital platforms. It concluded that the merger failed the public benefit test, and would not be beneficial for democracy.

However, the Commerce Commission makes its final decision about the NZME and Fairfax merger on March 2017. It is still possible that the merger will go ahead.

In October, the commission delayed its decision about Sky TV & Vodafone NZ merger as it sought answers to “unresolved issues.” The commission raised concerns about the merged company’s market power in premium content such as live sports, as well as the likely impact on consumer prices. The Commerce Commission decision about the merger is expected on December 21.

Both media merger proposals were not well received by the public and competing corporations. The Commerce Commission received 56 submissions about the NZME and Fairfax merger of which only three were supportive of it. The commission received 16 submissions about the Sky TV & Vodafone NZ merger, and they were all against.

Key events concerning New Zealand media ownership:

·  NZME separated from APN, listed on stock exchanges

·  News Corp sells all its NZME shares

·  Fairfax to own 41% of the merged NZME-Fairfax

·  Vodafone to have a majority stake in Sky TV-Vodafone

·  MediaWorks gets a new management and board

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