Commerce Commission 'pleased' with decision over NZME, Stuff merger

NZME and Stuff have been ordered to pay the costs of the appeal.
NZME and Stuff have been ordered to pay the costs of the appeal. Photo credit: Getty

The Court of Appeal has backed the Commerce Commission's decision to decline the proposed NZME/Stuff merger.

The two media giants' long-running appeal has come to a screeching halt, with the news of the decision announced on Tuesday.

In May 2016 Stuff (then known as Fairfax) and NZME sought authorisation to merge their New Zealand operations, arguing it was necessary to prevent job losses and the closure of some newspapers.

NZME owns The New Zealand Herald and many regional papers as well as a large number of commercial radio brands including Newstalk ZB, The Hits and ZM.

Stuff owns as well as regional papers like The Dominion Post, The Press and The Timaru Herald.

However the Commission found the merger would "substantially lessen competition" and would "concentrate New Zealand news media ownership and influence to an unprecedented extent for a well-established modern liberal democracy".

The decision was appealed to the High Court which declined, saying it "upheld the jurisdiction of the commission to consider detriments beyond economic or financial detriments in the relevant markets".

Stuff and NZME appealed this to the Court of Appeal, where they've lost again.

"We are pleased the Court has again upheld our decision and look forward to reviewing the judgment," says Commission deputy chair Sue Begg.

The Court has awarded costs to the Commission. NZME and Stuff have 20 working days to seek leave from the Supreme Court to bring a final appeal.