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ComCom expects NZME/Fairfax ruling to get int'l attention

Tuesday 18 October 2016 05:18 PM

Commerce Commission expects NZME/Fairfax merger ruling to attract international attention

By Edwin Mitson

Oct. 18 (BusinessDesk) - The chair of the Commerce Commission, Mark Berry, has said he expects the outcome of their ruling on the NZME/Fairfax Media merger proposal to be of international interest.

Berry was speaking at the launch of the commission's five-year strategy at Wellington on Tuesday afternoon. He told the audience that the proposal "has presented a number of questions that the commission has never been asked to consider before, specifically around how the merger would impact on issues pertaining to the fourth estate."

"There is limited international evidence for us to draw upon and so we expect our decision will be of particular interest not just to New Zealanders, but also to the international competition law community," he added.

In August, the Commerce Commission delayed its decision on the proposed merger, describing it as a complex deal and saying it needed more time to assess the impact on both news content and the advertising market. It is due to release a draft determination in early November, with a final decision on or before March 15, 2017. 

Chief executive Brent Alderton said a major public change in the five-year strategy would be that they would publish their priorities for the coming year on an annual basis. 

"We want markets to work well to make New Zealand a better place, to make New Zealanders better off," Alderton told the invited audience.

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The last year has been a busy one for the commission as it enforced changes to consumer credit. It has brought 41 cases before the courts so far, five under the Commerce Act, 11 under the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act, and 25 under the Fair Trading Act.

Some 29 of those cases remain before the courts, while sentencing is due before Christmas in 6 instances. 

It has also had to oversee the purchase of Caltex by Z Energy and is currently considering the proposed Sky/Vodafone merger. 


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