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Chamber flags impact of media merger on local news

Release Date: 8/11/2018
A merger between Nine Entertainment Co and Fairfax Media could have significant impact in the Hunter due to reduction in alternative local news sources, the Hunter Business Chamber said today.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has announced that it will not stand in the way of the proposed merger between the two media organisations. Chair Rod Sims said that while a merger would reduce the number of organisations intensely focusing on Australian news from five to four, it was “not likely to substantially lessen competition in any market”.
The Hunter Business Chamber was invited by the ACCC to comment on the merger proposal and cautioned in its submission that local news coverage would likely be reduced if the region’s major Fairfax masthead, the Newcastle Herald, and Nine’s NBN Television were combined.
“The Newcastle Herald and NBN represent two of the three major sources of local news in the Hunter region, along with the ABC, and they each bring different emphasis,” Chamber CEO Bob Hawes said.
“We believe it is important to have an option for alternative views and coverage, which will possibly be lost if two of the main newsrooms in the region merge.”
“Rationalisation and downsizing of newsrooms across the media industry has already affected the capacity of local news organisations to provide comprehensive regional coverage and we would be concerned to see this further diminished.”
Mr Hawes said uncertainty over the future of community newspapers produced by Fairfax was also a matter of concern.
“Locally produced news is very important to our communities in the Hunter, who want to read stories under local bylines, not just syndicated news. It is important that Nine address the future of these smaller mastheads in its merger plans.”

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