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Video-based news story
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Curated News Story
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Quality of Media Under Question Following Historical Merger
The 177-year-old Fairfax newspaper company has been consumed by Nine, raising questions about the future of public interest and regional journalism diversity in Australia. Nine CEO, Hugh Marks, has become the CEO of the newly formed Nine Entertainment in the four-billion-dollar media merger which will see the end of the Fairfax name.
Journalists at Australia oldest newspaper mastheads The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald learnt of the merger in an email from current Fairfax CEO, Greg Hywood, this morning.
Walkley-winning journalist Kate McClymont was shocked:
“So, after 150-plus years this is all we get. ‘I would like to thank everyone for their contribution to Fairfax,” she tweeted.
Jacqueline Maley of the Age and Sydney Morning Herald captured the mood of concern about what this might mean for public interest journalism in Australia:
“I am less attached the name ‘Fairfax’ than I am to the names of the noble mastheads we publish – mastheads which have been a pillar of public life in this country for 150-odd years. Hopefully, our new overlords will value them too,” she said in a tweet.
The deal was made possible following last year’s changes to cross-media ownership rules ending Hawke era restrictions on companies owning a TV Network, radio station, and newspaper in the same market. But questions are now mounting about the future of independent journalism in Australia and the destabilising effect the contracted landscape could have on democracy.
Former Prime minister Paul Keating entered the debate this afternoon saying Nine had historically “displayed the opportunism and ethics of an alley cat”, and “that puss will inevitably leak into Fairfax,” in a written statement.
The Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance wants the competition regulator to block the takeover:
“It harms the ability of an independent media to scrutinise and investigate the powerful, threatens the functioning of a healthy democracy, undermines the quality journalism that our communities rely on for information,” the key union announced in a tweet.
The Government is celebrating the merger as proof the removal of the regulations is allowing Australian media outlets to perform on the world stage in an era when media giants Facebook, Google and Netflix are taking an unprecedented cut of the media revenue pie. As reported in the Guardian, Communications Minister Senator Mitch Fifield claimed the merger would allow the new entity “to compete with the global giants” and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said, “The arrival of all the online news services has made the media so much more competitive “. Labour’s shadow communication minister is raising concerns about the concentration of media power.
Read the scathing written statement by Paul Keating: “Nine Entertainment Co Holdings Limited takeover of Fairfax Media Limited Statement by Paul Keating”
Read more about the deal and what it will mean in a Guardian article, “Nine’s Fairfax takeover: what is the deal and what will it mean”.
Read what “The Conversation” is saying in the article, “A modern tragedy: Nine-Fairfax merger a disaster for quality media”.