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Nine cools on talk of Fairfax merger

Nine CEO Hugh Marks yesterday commented on speculation about a possible merger between Nine Entertainment Co. and Fairfax, both of whom jointly share streaming service Stan.

He rejected any immediate mergers, and distanced himself from Fairfax’s print assets, suggesting that not even Fairfax boss Greg Hywood “sees a long-term fut­ure in the print assets.”

But according to The Australian Marks did reveal for the first time that the Nine is keen on Fairfax’s radio and digital assets, which ­include Stan and digital mastheads, and

“I continue to talk to all my colleagues at various media companies, and if there’s a deal or transaction that makes sense we will look at it,” he said.

Speaking to Mediaweek on SKY News Business, he also noted the strength of niche TV shows for Stan.

“Good shows that have a niche audience don’t work on Free to Air so to have a subscription business that can generate returns from that sort of content ….both on the selection and on the rights and negotiations, is a great addition to our business.

“Stan has been able to enter that market and become the leading local player.”

He also referred to Married at First Sight’s performance as indicative of the strength of Free to Air.

“We’re seeing the numbers up on television, but if you look at Catch-Up they’re up 97%. But that Catch-Up wouldn’t exist without Free to Air in the first place,” he said.

“It’s the mix of assets going forward that’s going to determine the success of our business. Not any one individual asset.”

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