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Specialist Guide to the

Global Leaders in Media Law Practice

Market consolidation remains a central focus in New Zealand this year as media companies look to collaboration for sustainability.  


The year 2018 ended with the failed merger between NZME and Fairfax-owned Stuff, after the Court of Appeal rejected the proposed merger.


The court’s decision in December upholds an earlier decision in May 2018 by the Commerce Commission to block the merger on the grounds that it would result in a loss of media plurality.


The court ruling considered that the merger would result in a concentration of too much media influence and control in one company.


Sinead Boucher, Chief Executive of Stuff, commented on the significance of media consolidation. She explained: “Now we really are seeing the really devastating effects that multinational platforms are having on the media's ability to fund journalism”.


Ms Boucher added: "I think consolidation of the media is in the end going to be essential and the government will have to look at how it could help

open the door to that in the same way the Australian government has recently done."


Other transactional activity over the past year includes the proposed merger between QMS Media and free-to-air broadcaster MediaWorks.


Both companies signed a conditional agreement in November 2018 that combines QMS Media’s New Zealand advertising business with MediaWork’s television and radio stations.


Jack Matthews, Chairman of MediaWorks, said: "With this proposed merger, MediaWorks will be able to further enhance its ability to deliver high quality local content and more effective advertising solutions to our customers."


QMS will receive a AUD35 million payment and 40 per cent of the merged entity as part of the agreement, which is subject to final adjustments.

TIER 1

Media law specialist Bell Gully represents clients across print and broadcast sectors advising on defamation, intellectual property and mergers and acquisitions. The media and entertainment practice advises on film and television, representing international film production companies on a full range of legal issues arising from their New Zealand-based productions, including tax and fiscal incentives. Alan Ringwood is the firm’s leading lawyer specialising in defamation law, commercial litigation and dispute resolution.  


Buddle Findlay’s team works with private and public sectors clients on television and film production, radio and print media. Lawyers regularly advise on licensing, format, distribution, and output deals for programmes. Representative work includes assistance to Sky on programming deals for pay television including significant deals with ESPN, Fox Studios, Disney and MGM.


Chapman Tripp is visible across a range of cases, working with publishers and broadcasters on advertising and audio-visual matters. In highlighted work the TMT group assisted Spark with the establishment of its video-on-demand initiatives. Lawyers also represented ACP Media Limited in High Court defamation proceedings brought against its North & South publication. Other work involves assistance with co-production funding and production agreements.


Boutique firm Hudson Gavin Martin specialises in corporate and commercial aspects of media, intellectual property and technology. Litigation solicitor Simon Martin works with the team on cases of joint ventures, technology licensing and acquisitions. Lawyers have extensive experience in negotiating media contracts for franchising, sponsorship, licensing of content and the appearance of celebrities in videos, films and events.


TIER 2

Focussed on entertainment, Dominion Law acts for clients ranging from internationally successful artists in the music industry and film studios to first-time film producers. The team includes commercial lawyers who have particular expertise in the creative industries and handle contract negotiations and advise on all areas of rights exploitation.


Minter Ellison Rudd Watts focusses on film and entertainment. Lawyers advise on financing productions, content distribution and regulatory challenges. Working with domestic and international clients, the team assists with various stages of business from negotiation and implementation to operational issues and exits.


Simpson Grierson regularly advises on copyright licensing within the music and technology sectors. Lawyers have extensive experience assisting with lobbying and the implementation of digital copyright amendments. In highlighted work, the firm represented Seven Network on contract disputes relating to images in magazines imported into New Zealand. In other work the practice assisted Sony Music with enforcement and licensing of music repertoire.


TIER 3

Izard Weston’s media and entertainment practice is appointed by private and public sector media organisations and public figures. Lawyers represent clients in defamation disputes involving injunctions, suppression orders and breaches of privacy. On behalf of publishers and broadcasters, the team reviews newspaper and magazine articles, advertisements, manuscripts and television and film productions prior to publication or broadcast.


Top

Ranking and editorials

TIER 1

Bell Gully

Buddle Findlay

Chapman Tripp

Hudson Gavin Martin


TIER 2

Dominion Law

Minter Ellison Rudd Watts

Simpson Grierson


TIER 3

Izard Weston

Russell McVeagh

Wilson Harle


TIER 4

A J Park

Anthony Harper

Baldwins

Kensington Swan

James & Wells

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