Media24 takes advice on ‘onerous’ conditions

2012-05-16 00:00

THE Competition Tribunal’s approval of the merger between Media24 and The Witness was met with guarded optimism yesterday.

Stuart Craib, Natal Witness Printing and Publishing Company chairperon, welcomed the Competitions Tribunal approval, but added: “I am a little concerned about the conditions being imposed.”

Esmaré Weideman, CEO of Media24, also welcomed the approval of the merger, but said Media24 was studying the conditions imposed, “some of which are quite onerous, and [we] are taking advice on this from our legal team”.

Conditions included the installation of a new printing press on the Witness’s premises within six months, which must be made available to small independent publishers for five years on pricing and other terms stipulated in the tribunal’s order.

Other conditions related to the merger resulting in Media24 owning 80% of Africa Web, which prints community newspapers in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.

These conditions are designed to protect the interests of smaller companies operating in the same market.

The Craib family has controlled the Natal Witness Printing and Publishing Company, the holding company of The Witness newspaper, since 1942, and sold a 50% share to Media 24 in 2000.

In July 2010 it was announced that Media24 had signed an agreement to buy the remaining 50% shares in The Natal Witness Printing and Publishing Company.

In July 2011 the Competition Commission recommended the tribunal approve the merger, but Caxton and CTP Printers and Publishers opposed the decision and were allowed to intervene in the merger proceedings.

Their objections were heard during a tribunal hearing lasting from March 15 to April 30 this year, which resulted in the tribunal’s decision to approve the merger with conditions that was announced on Monday.

The reasons underpinning the tribunal’s approval and the conditions imposed will be made available on June 11.

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