NZ Media Ownership 2018



Welcome to the 2018 New Zealand Media Ownership report published by the Journalism, Media and Democracy Research Centre (JMAD). Since 2011, these reports have been compiled by Merja Myllylahti. In that year, four overseas-owned corporates dominated the New Zealand media market: APN News and Media (now NZME), Fairfax Media, Media Works and Sky. There was a near duopoly in print and radio, a monopoly in pay television and only three significant competitors in free-to-air television, including state owned channels. From 2012 onward, listed and unlisted financial operators (banks, hedge funds, private equity companies) acquired media holdings as a lucrative short-term source of revenue. Thus, the transnational media corporates that had bought out national media holdings during the 1990s and early 2000s were themselves colonised by financial institutions.

The process was completed in 2016 when Rupert Murdoch’s Newscorp sold its NZME shares. Once that occurred, the largest media companies in New Zealand were primarily owned by financial institutions. Financial ownership brought an exclusive focus on revenue streams and profit rates. Commercial pressures within the news divisions of media companies thereby increased. Instead of concentrating on public interest stories, mainstream news media outlets produced ever more commercially-driven content. These detrimental effects can be seen in the Media Works case. Under the aegis of Oaktree Capital (U.S.), TV3 management was restructured, a new business model introduced and multi-platform news casting introduced. Senior journalists were made redundant, others left as newsrooms contracted and Campbell Live was discontinued.

Apart from financialisation, job losses in the print newspaper market were triggered by falling circulation, the growth of online news consumption, and the migration of advertising revenue to Google and Facebook. The commercial pressures generated by these developments persuaded the owners of NZME and Fairfax (Stuff) to begin merger plans. This proposal, had it not been blocked by the Commerce Commission, High Court and Court of Appeal, would have accelerated the decline of regional news, advanced the establishment of paywalls and threatened the viability of investigative journalism, advanced narrow editorial viewpoints and accorded major political influence to the newly merged entity. As this year’s NZ Media Ownership report indicates, the print newspaper market is shrinking anyway. Since 2012, NZ Herald circulation has dropped 36 percent. From September 2017 to September 2018, the combined circulation of our four largest newspapers plus 15 regional ones declined almost 9 percent.

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In this context, the recently proposed takeover of Stuff (formerly Fairfax) by the Australian Nine Entertainment is historically significant. A media corporate with major television holdings has subsumed a major, longstanding newspaper company. Within the soon-to-be-merged entity, existing newspaper titles are likely to be devalued. At the time of writing, the impact of this development on the future ownership of Stuff and its New Zealand media holdings is unknown.

Elsewhere in JMAD’s New Zealand Media Ownership report, readers will find that NZME and Media Works maintain their duopoly in the commercial radio market. The latter has signed a merger agreement with Australia outdoor advertising company QMS in order to increase advertising reach and sales. Media Works’ ownership structure is likely to change, however, (U.S.) Oaktree Capital will maintain majority control. Within NZME and Sky TV, financial institutions sold out their positions and new financial owners emerged.

Other features of the report worth noting here are: the ructions and restructurings within Māori Television; the uncertain future of Labour’s broadcasting policy; TVNZ’s new sportscasting arrangements with Spark; and the growing political stridency of New Zealand-based Chinese news media outlets at a time when government relations with Beijing are sensitive.




  1. What NZ/AO needs is an aggressive government protecting the interests of our most vulnerable then everything else would fall into place. When a government has the best interests at heart of those most at risk, you know the government will behave in a rational and responsible manner for the rest of us upstream from the poor fuckers living rough in cars/garages or on the streets. (It would prove, to me anyway, that the government would be more interested in the comfort and security of us rather than feeding foreign banks with OUR money.) That means keeping the soulless chinese and their money out, flattening the evil banking industry into paste and conducting open and frank enquiries into the dark, greedy behaviours of those scum who ripped us off while we stumbled about with our all bought and paid for SOE worms in our beaks. That could all be with the help of a tax paid for, free to air TV, radio and an NZ/AO centric government ( Us lot) website within which Blogs would encourage open debate and enable whistle blowing on any and all crooked scum who’ve started sniffing around OUR money.
    This labour government is nothing more than candy floss. It looks like a thing of substance, all sweet and pink and pretty and makes the right noises by brain farting into an echo chamber but when you bite into it… there’s no substance except hot air and fluff.
    Politically, we’re in deep shit. And we’re politically in deep shit because we hand the responsibility for maintaining our democracy over to liars, swindlers, cheats, thieves , grifters, carpet baggers and Big Money Makers and you can see that by us getting what we deserve and that’s fuck all except misery and poverty on a rich land bigger than the UK but with only 4.7-ish million.
    Vive le France! BTW.

  2. Instead of concentrating on public interest stories, mainstream news media outlets produced ever more commercially-driven content….content that’s sooo commercially good its driven commercially viable readership/viewership away in droves.

    The narrative is bullcrap. We are constantly told what we want, and then those very same know it alls bleat at the lack of viewer/readership loyalty.

    Has it ever occured to anyone that they are lazy, lying, brainwashed nincompoops condemning us and our children to terminal stupidity?

  3. Commercialisation everywhere, information is a commodity, traded and sold, for a profit, as the wrapping is advertising.

    Advertising is paid for by vested interest holding business players, by various organisations having agendas, even during election campaigns by political parties and lobby groups.

    With the internet, with misinformation being at least as present as information, we have the perfect recipe for present day and future dictatorships, able to use the means of social and other media, telling people only what they are meant to know.

    The poor cannot afford advertising, cannot afford lawyers, advocates and reporters have limited time for them, so the poor, the disowned, the oppressed and sold out, they have NO voice left. All that happens occasionally is, someone from the MSM wanders off into the nobody land, the high risk land, and talks to the poor, disowned, raped, pillaged and exploited, and then feels, hey, I bring an emotive tear driving story, that will satisfy them all.

    It may hike the ratings, and sell us more news, but this diet will be a side dish, only served occasionally, as we cannot afford to run our business on negativity.

    Keep the probs and their creators in the ghettos, keep them away from the gated communities and the better off middle class, keep the illusion alive, you can climb a social and economic ladder during life, buy yourself out of serfdom or slavery, as most employees are that, and dream of such options.

    Kiwi Dream equal American Dream, BS served up under different names, all the same, we are sold, betrayed, lied to, corrupted and made to compete with each other and fight each other, certainly mistrust each other, so to keep the ones in power, who pull the strings and laugh at us idiots.

    Wonderful, the media landscape shows just what I summarise, it is a pile of shit that deserves to be flushed down the toilet.

  4. The locally owned Wairarapa Times Age saw almost no fall in its latest circulation figures and combined with the free weekly Wairarapa Midweek, is doing well.

    The Otago Daily Times which is also not owned by one of the major corporations is also doing well.

    Maybe it is time to stop blaming the internet for the fall in newspaper circulation but to blame corporate ownership of newspapers

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