While the announcement of the Nine-Fairfax merger has rightly dominated today’s news agenda, it is arguably only reflective of the broader changes across the media landscape that have been brewing for some time. It is also a consequence of the seismic shift in news content production to meet the consumption demands of Australians.
The merger should provide both Nine and Fairfax the opportunity to maximise their content offerings across all media platforms – TV, print, radio and online. This is an important priority, as today, both print media broadly and free-to-air TV have shrinking audiences and advertising revenue. And, while more diverse than ever before, the two companies together are worth substantially less than Nine was on its own 10 years ago.
As discussed by Six O’Clock directors Siobhan Koopmans, Jim Stiliadis and Patrick O’Beirne, the merger brings with it plenty of uncertainty. It raises significant questions about editorial integrity and the need for diversity of news and opinion across our national media landscape. Will commercial interests and business priorities compromise the editorial distinction Nine and Fairfax currently have and see a consolidation of resources and news outlets? Or, will the brand equity of The Age, the Sydney Morning Herald, Nine News and associated news programming ensure their survival?
Only time will tell what impact the merger will have on the market, and more broadly across the media industry, but there’s no doubt this announcement delivers on the demand for more cross-platform distribution of news and information.