The proposed takeover of Fairfax Media by Nine is a watershed moment for Australian journalism and for our democracy.
It will create the largest media organisation in the country and reduce diversity in what is already one of the most concentrated media markets in the world.
For many decades, Fairfax has been a byword for quality, integrity and independence, so we are deeply concerned what this takeover could mean for the future of journalism in Australia.
While Nine has produced, and continues to produce, much fine journalism over the years, the two organisations have very different cultures.
This takeover is the inevitable outcome of the shortsighted and ill-conceived changes to media ownership laws that were passed by the Coalition government — with the assistance of cross-bench Senators — last year.
MEAA has called for the ACCC to block the merger on the grounds that it will reduce competition and diversity in our media. Read our full media release here, and watch this message from the federal president of MEAA Media, Marcus Strom, below.
Video from the MEAA
But should the merger be allowed to go ahead, we are seeking three rock solid guarantees from the new owners of Fairfax:
- No editorial job losses.
- All existing employment terms and conditions be maintained.
- The Fairfax Media Charter of Editorial Independence is adopted by Nine.
The charter of editorial independence is a sacred document that explicitly prohibits media proprietors from dictating or interfering in the editorial decisions or journalism of its publications, even if they may reflect poorly on the proprietor or advertisers.
It has allowed the journalists of Fairfax to pursue courageous investigations into powerful influences, sometimes to the detriment of commercial interests, such as the series of stories into banking misbehavior which resulted in a royal commission, but also in the big banks pulling advertising from Fairfax.
We all know that without an ironclad charter of independence, editorial standards can slip and the integrity and quality of journalism can be threatened.
Your support for quality journalism at Fairfax has been much appreciated in the past, and in the coming weeks we will be calling on you to take action again. But whatever the outcome, you can be assured that MEAA will continue to fight for quality, independent journalism in Australia.