Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp’s proposed buyout of daily and weekly newspapers in the northern rivers is under a cloud after the competitive watchdog flagged concerns it would have a monopoly on print newspapers in Queensland which could dilute local news content and opinion.
News Corp already owns 14.9 per cent of its print rival, APN News and Media, but since June has been in talks to buy out its regional newspaper division for $36.6 million.
APN owns the weekly Byron Shire News, the daily Northern Star in Lismore, the free Tweed Daily News and Ballina Advocate.
In stark contrast, Echonetdaily and its sister weekly, the Byron Shire Echo, are independently and locally owned.
The Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) issued a statement yesterday flagging its concerns that the buyout could reduce local news and opinion content in regional parts of Australia.
It also fears it may close down rival APN newspapers that compete against it, such as in the Tweed where News Corp’s free community weekly the Tweed Sun and APN’s free Tweed Daily News compete for advertising in the same distribution area.
The ACC raised concerns that News Corp would sack journalists by closing down the APN rival in the same market, such as the Tweed Daily News, and reduce news and content.
APN has released a statement to the market saying it would adjust its timetable for the deal as a result of the ACCC issues statement, while News Corp told Fairfax Media it was giving it ‘proper consideration’.
In its statement, the ACCC said the proposed buyout would mean News would own ‘a vast majority of print newspapers in Queensland’ and could also affect the quality of content in future.