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The future of New Zealand media even more unpredictable

The future of New Zealand media even more unpredictable

The near term future of New Zealand media companies has become more unpredictable in 2012, according to the latest New Zealand Media Ownership Report published by AUT’s Centre for Journalism Media and Democracy (JMAD). The ownership of New Zealand media in 2012 became even more tightly concentrated in the hands of private equity firms, financial institutions and media moguls.

The profits and share prices of news media companies have plummeted which has made them ideal takeover targets for financiers and private equity firms who are looking for revenue and restructuring deals. Interestingly enough, MediaWorks now has three major private equity owners instead of one,says reports author Merja Myllylahti.

Publishers of New Zealand's two major metropolitan dailies, Fairfax Media and APN, have the same major shareholder; investment house Allan Gray and this has led to speculation that the two media companies would merge their print operations, says the report.

There is currently huge shareholder pressure for companies to cut costs, rationalise their operations and sell assets. In a few years time, the structure of the New Zealand media market might look completely different.

For example, APN has already started sales of New Zealand media assets including its South Island newspapers and the company is looking for a buyer the New Zealand Herald. Fairfax has also started to sell down its core assets including its stake in TradeMe.”

JMAD also found that the trans-national ownership of New Zealand media companies has increased, an example being the takeover of ACP Magazines (publisher of Metro and North & South magazines) by German publishing giant Bauer Media Group.

The public media space has also shrunk further. The closure of TVNZ 7 and Stratos reduces content, diversity on free-to-air television. Advertiser-driven and pay subscriber television predominates advertising free television unavailable for New Zealand viewers, comments Wayne Hope, the director of JMAD.

Key events and trends concerning New Zealand media ownership in 2012

• Trans-national media corporations tighten control over New Zealand media companies.
• Financial institutions and private equity firms increase their New Zealand media holdings.
• Fairfax and APN: asset sales, job cuts, paywalls and tabloid formats.
• Traditional business models in New Zealand print media become less viable.
• Public broadcasting shrinks further after the closure of TVNZ 7 and Stratos.
• Sky TV’s spreading influence triggers Commerce Commission investigation.
• web based public interest journalism emerges


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