ACCC not to oppose WA news media acquisition
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has announced it will not oppose Seven West Media’s (SWM) proposed acquisition of The Sunday Times and perthnow.com.au from News Limited (News).
SWM and News are national media providers of both print and online media nationally and across various jurisdictions in Australia. In Western Australia (WA), SWM supplies The West Australian, The Weekend West and thewest.com.au, among other media assets, and News supplies The Sunday Times and perthnow.com.au.
The ACCC’s review predominantly focused on WA specific news media and considered the likely effects of the proposed acquisition in three markets:
- the supply of news and information to readers/consumers in WA;
- the supply of advertising opportunities in print newspapers in WA; and
- the acquisition of news content from content providers.
On the supply to readers/consumers; the ACCC found that, while information suggested News and SWM were close competitors, a sufficient range of news choices would remain available to Western Australians. Further they examined and had regard to the declining readership of print media in the face of competition from online news sources.
On the supply of advertising opportunities; for many categories of advertising the ACCC reports that the role of print media has become less important given the rise in online media prevalence and the ability of advertisers to substitute away from print media, however, they identify that there are some categories for which print media remains of high value. Regardless, the ACCC reports that even the concerned advertisers were able to identify substitutes, if in the event that SWM decided to increase prices post acquisition.
The ACCC also concluded that the removal of a single customer was unlikely to adversely affect competition in related to the acquisition of news content.
Frontier (Asia-Pacific) advised the lawyers acting for News in relation to patterns of substitution between different advertising media.