Another day, another mega media deal. This morning Fairfax announced it was swallowing up Rural Press in an agreed deal that will create “Australasia’s largest integrated metropolitan, regional and rural print and digital media business” valued at $9 billion.
It’s yet more confirmation that the primary outcome of the government’s media reform laws will be significantly fewer and significantly bigger media companies with significantly more influence over the public debate. And it’s a deal likely to trigger even more takeover activity as media owners compete to be one of the few big gorillas left standing when the dust settles in the Australian media jungle.
Will this deal push Rupert Murdoch to buy Fairfax? Will the Packer or Stokes families barge in to snap up more assets to ensure they continue to dominate the jungle? Will private equity funding continue to pour into media assets? After all, who wants to be a wimp when you can be a master of the media universe?
What was Communications Minister Helen Coonan thinking when she said she didn’t “expect to see a flurry” of takeovers as a result of her handiwork? Her misguided and unnecessary legislation is well on the way to creating a tiny band of unelected media monsters with more power to control the information traffic than any mere elected politician.