AAP logo on wall of corridor of office
(Image: AAP/Dylan Coker)

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is polling media owners on the state of the news media as it looks into the closure and potential sale of newswire service Australian Associated Press (AAP).

In a letter sent to media owners this morning, the ACCC said it was conducting “market inquiries” into the decision to close AAP and, “in particular, the proposed closure of AAP’s Newswire business”.

A consortium is seeking to buy the newswire service, fact-checking and photography parts of AAP, and transition it into a slimmed down not-for-profit.

In March it was announced that the 85-year-old AAP would close. Staff were told at the time that major shareholders Nine and News Corp no longer wanted to “subsidise” their competition.

Crikey recently reported on rumours that the ACCC had put News Corp, Nine and Seven West Media on notice regarding blocking the sale of AAP.

A tipster told us that the ACCC issued a notice to the parties, saying shareholders had to check back with the ACCC before accepting or rejecting the bid.

At the time, the ACCC would only confirm that it would be “watching to ensure there were no inappropriate impediments to any potential sale of AAP”, but the letter confirms the ACCC is taking an official and active interest, asking for the views of media owners on:

  • The current state of the market(s) for publishing news content
  • The likely impact of the proposed closure of AAP Newswire on the ability of clients of AAP Newswire to publish news content, and
  • The likely impact of the proposed closure of AAP Newswire on barriers to entry in the market(s) for publishing news content to readers.

Among a host of other questions. And they’re clearly in a hurry to get it done, asking to receive any written submissions by June 16, 2020.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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