Catalano seals Fairfax merger deal. The deal is done. Five weeks ago Crikey predicted a looming “$35-40 million” tie-up between Antony Catalano’s MMP Holdings and Fairfax Media and this morning it became a reality, with Fairfax telling the ASX that it had offered $35 million and 32 suburban mastheads for half a stake in the trailblazing Weekly Review publisher. Assuming the Fairfax community mastheads are worth $35 million by themselves, the value of the new merged entity would skyrocket to about $140 million. Catalano retains full management control of the new entity that will reach 1.5 million households and about 3 million readers.

Catalano, who launched the company last April in one of the most audacious revenue grabs ever seen in Australian journalism, told Crikey this morning that the deal was an “endorsement of quality journalism, a vindication that quality is still in demand”. He said it was a great opportunity for budding hacks “to work across multiple media properties”, adding he was “very excited about the future”. Fairfax had approached him, Catalano said, but said the synergies had only become apparent after The Weekly Review became a fixture in Melbourne’s leafy eastern suburbs.

In an email to staff this morning, Melbourne publishing Chief Executive David Hoath said that “the merger presents an exciting opportunity to enhance the reach and strengths of both businesses for the benefit of our readers and advertisers, particularly in the key real estate sector”. He also said it would “expand the Domain brand”. The deal still requires the approval of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. — Andrew Crook

Department of Corrections. This is one of those where you wonder if they wanted it to be corrected. From the Houston Chronicle:

Front page of the day. Worrying concerns in Haiti that the UN mission to the country has been accused of torture claims, according to the Haiti Liberte paper (it comes after allegations in September that UN peace keepers had raped a young Haitian man) …

Greenslade: 2011 a landmark year for media

“It has been the year of Leveson — the year when one of Britain’s favourite newspaper titles, the News of the World, was closed down while selling 2.6 million copies an issue, throwing more than 200 journalists out of work. No wonder future media historians will come to regard 2011 as a landmark year.” — London Evening Standard

Facebook finally grows up

“Facebook plans to file early next year with the Securities and Exchange Commission to take the stock public in the second quarter of 2012, according to a person familiar with the matter. The IPO could raise as much as $10 billion at a valuation of more than $100 billion.” — Wall Street Journal

The billionaires that love newspapers

“… while newspaper ownership used to be a source of prestige, power and profit, industry losses now carry the threat of knocking the owner off the Forbes 400 list. Nonetheless, the wealthy continue to have a soft spot for the news biz.” — Forbes

White House reporters ruin Obama kids Christmas

“President Obama, stuck in Washington gridlock while his family is already on vacation in Hawaii, did some Christmas shopping on Wednesday. A group of pool reporters traveled with him to Alexandria, Va. — where the commander-in-chief bought gifts for his daughters, Malia, 13, and Sasha, 10 — and quite possibly ruined their Christmas surprise in the process.” — Yahoo

SBS poaches news director from BBC?

TV Tonight hears whispers that Tony Iffland, General Manager, BBC Worldwide Australia is tipped to become the new Director of Television for SBS.” — TV Tonight

Peter Fray

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