Black Monday? Verdict Due for Press Mogul
The Danish PM is flirting with the blogosphere

Black Monday II? Media Authority to rule on Schibsted merger

Today may also become a black Monday for Norwegian media group Schibsted, as the country's Media Authority is due to give its verdict on the media company's prolonged efforts to create giant media group Media Norway. The merger would see Schibsted's national Aftenposten partner with regionals Stavanger Aftenblad, Bergens Tidende and Faedrelandsvennen and has previously been branded an acquisition by Mecom, with Schibsted bent on retaining a 50,1 per cent stake in the new consortium.

In an op-ed last Monday, Stig Finslo, a director in Mecom's Norwegian arm, Edda Media, asked: 'Who exactly is eroding media diversity in Norway?' He was responding to a journalist in Stavanger Aftenblad who, defending the propesed merger in his own paper, had said he thought it strange how 'Mecom is allowed to ravage as they see fit, causing considerable damage to media diversity, while an ownership integration seeking to strengthen the position of the regional newspapers may be blocked.' Finslo challenged the journalist to document his claims about Mecom.

However, Norway's culture minister has made it clear on numerous occasions that he is 'very worried' about how both Mecom and Media Norway could erode the country's media diversity and thereby threaten local democracy.

Update 15:20: the Norwegia Media Authority obviously shares those worries and has upheld its previous pledge to intervene against the merger, citing Schibsted's dominant online position and the relative size and influence of the newspapers involved as major reasons.

Schibsted on the other hand, contests the Media Authority's interpretation of Norway's media law and will appeal to the country's Complaints Commission.


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