ComCom right to reject media merger, court hears
By Sophie Boot
Oct. 20 (BusinessDesk) - In the fifth day of the media merger appeal, the Commerce Commission's lawyers have begun their arguments against overturning the regulator's rejection of the country's two largest print media companies joining together.
The court has already heard from the joint legal representatives of Stuff and NZME, on their primary appeal - whether the regulator was right to reject the merger proposal - and the secondary appeal, on the process it took.
This morning, James Farmer QC, lawyer for the Commerce Commission, said the public interest test was much broader than had been characterised by the media companies' lawyer. He said the decision by the Commerce Commission to reject the merger had been firm and wasn't "a case where the commission just wasn't sure".
Farmer said that allowing the merger would be to remove external competition faced by the media companies, which was what the commission is tasked with considering under the Commerce Act.
"If you're concerned about whether the merger will see a substantial lessening of competition it's market structure you look at," Farmer said. "You don't just rest content and say this firm has got a history of behaving responsibly and we can be content with that. What's important is the external constraint that our law says the Commerce Commission has to have regard to when it considers merger proposals."
Farmer continues this afternoon, with the case set to continue into next week.