Wellington, September 25, 2018
The Court of Appeal has dismissed NZME and Fairfax’s (now Stuff) long-running appeal against the Commerce Commission’s decision to decline their media merger.
The Commerce Commission has welcomed the court’s decision.
No benefits of merger
The Court’s ruling upheld the earlier High Court judgment that supported the Commission’s May 2017 decision that the merger would be likely to substantially lessen competition in advertising and reader markets in New Zealand, and that it should not be authorised as it did not create benefits that outweighed this lessening of competition.
The Commission considered that the merger would concentrate New Zealand news media ownership and influence to an unprecedented extent for a well-established modern liberal democracy.
Commission Deputy Chair Sue Begg welcomed the Court’s ruling, saying, “We are pleased the Court has again upheld our decision and look forward to reviewing the judgment.”
The Court has awarded costs to the Commission.
The full judgment is expected to be released online this week at http://www.courtsofnz.govt.nz/judgments/court-of-appeal.
Documents relating to the Commission’s original determination can be found here.
In May 2016, Fairfax and NZME sought authorisation to merge their New Zealand operations. The Commission declined the merger in May 2017 and the High Court in Wellington upheld the Commission’s decision in December 2017.
The appellants have 20 working days to seek leave from the Supreme Court to bring a final appeal. Authorisation applications follow a two-step process under the Commerce Act.
-Commerce Commission Press Release
Stuff Limited Stable of Newspapers (Picture Courtesy: RNZ)