The Commerce Commission has agreed on an extension with NZME and Fairfax on their application seeking authorisation to merge their New Zealand media operations and will now not make its final decision until March 15 next year.

The Commission says it has received a large number of submissions from interested parties since it received the application in May, adding that the proposed merger is complex and involves two-sided markets – advertisers on one side and consumers (readers) on the other. The Commission is continuing to assess the effects of the proposed merger on areas such as the provision of national, regional and local news content and information, including the impact on the quality, accuracy and range of the news media in New Zealand. In addition, the Commission is assessing whether the proposed merger would enable the parties to increase prices to advertisers and consumers.

As part of the standard authorisation process, the Commission intends to release a draft determination by early November. This will set out the Commission’s preliminary view on whether the proposed merger would be likely to result in a substantial lessening of competition as well as balancing the public benefits and detriments that it may bring about. Following the release of the draft determination, the Commission will seek further submissions from interested parties.

The Commission says the decision-making timeframe allows for a public conference to be held in December should it be needed. A conference would be an opportunity for the Commission to test the views of NZME and Fairfax and interested parties on the issues raised in the draft determination.

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