Norway's culture minister is worried it will reduce newspaper diversity and harm local democracy. The newspaper's employees are worried about job cuts resulting from 'synergy effects'. No, we're not talking about David Montgomery or another foreigner and/or venture capitalist buying into Norwegian media, but rather about today's vote on a merger proposal that would dwarf just about any other player in the Norwegian media market.
It has taken the parties quite some time to agree on the proposal that will be presented to the boards of Norway's biggest broadsheet and four biggest regional papers today. With several shareholders in the different papers, such as Erik Must (Adresseavisa) and Mecom (Bergens Tidenede and Adresseavisa), opposing Schibsted's demand for majority control, it seems increasingly unlikely that the merger will go through. However, Aftenposten reports today that should Adresseavisa, whose board is said to be opposed to the merger, vote against it, other regional papers may be invited to join the regional newspaper company.
The merger is intended to save costs, increase revenues and improve the papers' negotiating power with advertisers. On the face of it it's a merger that makes a lot more sense to Schibsted, who has demanded they get minimum 50 per cent of the shares in the new company, than the regional papers involved, all of which have better profit margins than Schibsted's Aftenposten.