As mentioned earlier, the time to make comments to the Office of Fair Trading concerning KM Group's submission to acquire Northcliffe Media's Kent newspapers is running out. You have until Monday 8th August.
It seems rather surprising and disturbing that the counties politicians have yet to comment but who would report it anyway. KM Group like the minimalist Thanet Extra and Northcliffe Media newspapers such as the Isle of Thanet Gazette/Times etc. are hardly going to wish to stir things up. Kent on Sunday stands to gain so their hardly going whip up a storm.
It's unfortunate BBC South East and BBC Radio Kent have not made this the subject of public discussion, I spoke to a Radio Kent manager who suggested I send him a paragraph, I didn't have the energy, what would be the point.
KM Group's take over of Northcliffe Media's Papers would be similar at a regional level to Murdoch taking over every national newspaper with the exception of say the Daily Express.
Anyway here are the key points of the likely outcome in my opinion if the Office of Fair Trading nod this deal through.
- NEWSPAPERS CLOSED – Is it likely KM Group will keep the Gazette and Times in Thanet as well as the Thanet Extra or indeed others across Kent.
- LOCAL NEWS POORER COVERAGE – The normal competitive process of reporting will cease. Particularly at district level.
- MINMAL COMPETITION - Archant Media Group who produce Kent on Sunday, do not currently as I understand produce local district newspapers as in print form. Their papers like "yourthanet" exist purely in "e" format so lack the appeal of hard copy papers like the Gazette or Extra which you can browse news as well adverts Homes, Cars and of course Classifieds.
- HIGHER ADVERTISING COSTS – Businesses aren't charities and neither is the KM Group unrestrained by adequate competition what choice will business have when advertising rates rise.
- PUBLIC INTEREST – Local Democracy will be harmed as its almost inevitably journalists will be sacked and consequently resources wont exist to scrutinise local government.
- MEDIA MARKET SHARE – KM Group will if this deal goes through have a massive strangle hold on media with newsprint and radio, which cannot be in the public interest however well intentioned they might be.
The process of the Office of Fair Trading's deliberations into the consequences of this proposed takeover, are unfortunately not as open as would be desirable due to commercial confidentiality, so as far as the public interest is concerned its only possible to guess at KM's plans.
I suggest if you concur with my concerns that you mention it to those you know and also keep the Office of Fair Trading by contacting Raúl Nieto email@example.com Fax: 020 7211 8916.PS Companies and organisation are being consulted by the OFT about KM's bid and therefore may be unable to comment or feel its not in their interest to do so.