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Fairfax to keep independence, says Marks

James Hall
Nine boss Hugh Marks says Fairfax's mastheads need to retain their independence

Nine Entertainment chief executive Hugh Marks says he wants Fairfax Media's key mastheads to retain their independence in the wake of the broadcaster's planned acquisition of the newspaper group.

Mr Marks told a news media forum in Sydney on Friday that major brands such as Fairfax's Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and Australian Financial Review need the people who represent those brands to be independent to produce quality journalism.

Nine and Fairfax announced their intended merger - creating a $4 billion media giant - in July and the deal remains subject to approval by the competition regulator.

Mr Marks, who will take control of Fairfax Media as CEO of the merged entity post-acquisition, said the industry needs to do a better job of presenting journalism to its audience.

He said this will help financially sustain journalism.

"Quality content, that engages an audience in an environment where the audience can trust what they're receiving should lead to an engaged audience, which should lead to the best advertiser outcome," he said.

The Nine boss also took aim at Facebook for not taking responsibility for content published on its website, saying regulation of how it operates needs to be addressed.

Mr Marks questioned the contribution Facebook and the other so-called "FANG" companies (for Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google) make to the industry.

"You're a trillion dollar company, and you're basically building your business on your ability to generate revenue from audiences coming in from content created by third parties," he said.

Media companies had to look at how to use those giant digital platforms in ways that "extend both the content relationship and the advertiser relationship", he said.