Fairfax Media has been a household name in Australia for decades, having been established and run by the Fairfax family from its founding in 1841 up until 1990 when the company collapsed and was re-listed on the Australian Stock Exchange.
But the home-grown media company, which owns titles such as the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Australian Financial Review, will cease to exist when the brand is merged with Nine Entertainment.
The $4 billion merger was announced on Thursday morning and a statement distributed to Fairfax staff, and then shared on Twitter, read: “This morning we announced that Nine and Fairfax Media would merge. The merged company will be called Nine.
“Over the last eight years Fairfax Media has gone from being at the mercy of the non-stop global media revolution to being best of its breed. And that is why Nine wants to merge their business with ours. You can be assured that there will be plenty of Fairfax Media DNA in the merged company.”
Nine shareholders will own 51.1 per cent of the combined entity and Nine CEO Hugh Marks will lead the new company. While Fairfax shareholders will own the remaining 48.9 per cent.
Tipping this is the end of some important investigative journalism in Australia. Eg. No more ABC/ Fairfax investigations? Not likely the same stories will make it on to commercial TV. Will paper journos have to hand over stories to TVs to air for nightly news? So many questions! https://t.co/0BwlF4vWft
— Andrea Hamblin (@AndieHamblin) July 25, 2018
The new combined business will be made up of Nine’s free to air television network and Fairfax’s mastheads, as well as digital businesses including Domain, Stan, 9Now and Macquarie Media.
However not everyone is happy about the news, as critics were quick to post their doubts about the merger online with many questioning the future of investigative journalism at Fairfax’s titles, once the merger is complete.
One Twitter user described the deal as “heartbreaking”: “It’s heartbreaking but if journalists were better at holding government to account there’d be a greater outcry from the public over this attack on the 4th estate. Many in the media have made themselves redundant by failing to properly report. Our media is complicit by its silence.”
A reporter from the Herald Sun wrote: “Tipping this is the end of some important investigative journalism in Australia.”
While another user said: “A joke. I feel that I have to say this.”
Nine Chief Executive Officer Hugh Marks said: “Nine’s strong operating momentum has allowed us to invest in the future of our business through each of 9Now, Digital Publishing and of course, Stan. This merger with Fairfax will add another dimension, creating a unique, all-platform, media business that will reach more than half of Australia each day through television, online, print and radio.”