Australia: Nine-Fairfax Media merger threatens jobs
3 September 2018
Nine Entertainment and Fairfax Media, two of Australia’s largest media organisations, announced last week a $4 billion merger. The deal—being described as one of the most significant changes in Australian media over several decades—must still be ratified by shareholders and federal competition authorities.
The agreement foreshadows sweeping cuts to jobs and conditions at Fairfax. While it has been presented as a merger, many Fairfax staff members have noted that it is effectively a takeover, with the new entity set to drop the Fairfax name and adopt Nine’s branding.
The deal marks a new stage in a protracted restructuring of corporate media organisations, dictated by the financial elite. It follows years of cost-cutting at Fairfax, designed to make the company attractive to a potential buyer amid declining newspaper sales and increasing market pressures.
The proposed takeover has been facilitated by decades of legislative changes by successive Labor and Liberal-National governments, enabling unprecedented concentration of media ownership.
A Fairfax reporter told the WSWS that employees were only informed of the planned merger by email on July 26, at the same time it was publicly announced. He said the news had left Fairfax employees “in shock” and “upset” at not being consulted beforehand.
In comments to the media last week, Nine CEO Hugh Marks refused to rule out “consolidation” of editorial positions within the merged organisation, i.e., sweeping job cuts targeting journalists. He foreshadowed sackings of office workers and other staff, declaring that the agreement would facilitate the “de-duplication of back office functions.”
Marks and Fairfax CEO Greg Hywood…