Australia: Fairfax and Nine merger article

Last Updated: 25 October 2018
Article by Joshua Dale and Connor Molloy

In a dynamic and evolving media landscape, companies are attempting to find ways to innovate and remain competitive and profitable in a market that is becoming increasingly dominated by social media companies, whose market exposure is nearly beyond reach. Nine Entertainment (Nine) and Fairfax Media (Fairfax) have each decided that the only way for them to compete in this changing market, is to consolidate their resources and face the challenge together. Whether a merger is the best way forward for the companies is yet to be seen. Either way, it will substantially alter the products of each individual entity and its impact will be widespread in relation to how Australians consume information.

On 26 July 2018 Nine and Fairfax announced that they would be merging in an agreement that would see Fairfax shareholders owning 48.9% and Nine shareholders owning 51.1% of what would be a new multimedia conglomerate operating under the Nine name. The Fairfax name (which has been around for 177 years) will be lost, and with it, arguably the diversity that was protected prior to the amendments to the broadcasting legislation which occurred late last year. The merge is being framed as an opportunity for both companies to pool their assets and increase profitability, while continuing to produce the same diverse range of products. The two organisations currently operate in entirely different areas of the media. Nine focus on entertainment driven platforms and Fairfax largely prioritise the distribution of news. The reality may be, that the products are too diverse, and that this merge will deprive consumers of options in a market that is becoming increasingly one dimensional.

The Broadcasting Legislation Amendment (Broadcasting Reform) Bill which passed through the Senate late last year brought two major changes; the removal of the two out of three rule, which stopped the same company operating a newspaper, radio and television outlet in the same city; and the reach rule, which stopped a single television broadcaster from reaching more than 75% of the population. These amendments, although largely criticised, have created new opportunities for media and entertainment organisations and have made this merger possible.

The proposed merger is currently under review from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) who have the potential to stop it from coming to fruition. The review process focuses on the foreseeable future (generally one to two years) and assesses ways in which the merger may result in competitive harm to the market. The ACCC use a 'with-or-without' test to try and analyse the situation in the event that the merger does or does not go ahead. Although the review will be extensive, it will focus on the modes of delivery of each company and given their diversity, it is unlikely that the proposed merger will be harshly assessed.

The new merged entity will be in control of various subscription driven platforms namely, Stan, the Age, the Sydney Morning Herald and the Australian Financial Review. Each of the outlets currently offers their own independent subscription, and it is likely that they will continue to operate this way for the immediate future. Stan is billed month to month and each of the three publications requires customers to purchase an annual subscription. It is likely that the organisations managing the subscriptions won't change, however the product being advertised and purchased undoubtedly will.

The nature of the product being sold by each of these outlets will likely be heavily scrutinised in the coming months. Inevitably questions will be asked as to whether consumers should be able to walk away from their subscription on the basis that the product advertised (and the one they purchased), is materially different to the product that has been delivered.

Will a subscription for a Fairfax owned Australian Financial Review largely the same as a subscription for a Nine owned by Australian Financial Review? This raises a large number of issues for current subscribers, especially those who have only recently purchased their subscription. Although both companies have stated an intention to '...conduct its business in the ordinary course' it seems reasonable that the product may change slightly.

In a media environment that has recently been dominated by a decrease in funding for independent media outlets ABC and SBS, as well as the growing input of companies like Facebook and Google, this merger has the potential to entirely alter the dynamic of traditional media in Australia. One entity having majority control of substantial broadcasting, radio and print media assets may have severe implications on the independence of the media in this country and on an individual's ability to access information.

Undoubtedly the new Nine entity will be a large player in the industry, but given the enormous reach of Facebook and Google it seems as though there is more change to come for the consumer and it is unlikely to result in higher quantities of independent news sources.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions