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Copyright © Media Law International 2018. All Rights Reserved.

Specialist Guide to the

Global Leaders in Media Law Practice

The print sector came into focus in the past year after two of the country’s largest newspaper groups announced a merger, prompting ownership and competition regulatory review.


The proposed merger between Fairfax Media and NZME was subsequently blocked by the Commerce Commission on the grounds that it would lead to ownership concentration at an “unprecedented level”.


The country’s regulator released its final decision in May 2017 to block the transaction, citing risks of reduced competition and increased media ownership and influence.   


In a statement, Commission Chair Mark Berry noted: ‘This level of influence over the news and political agenda by a single media organisation creates a risk of causing harm to New Zealand’s democracy.’


According to Fairfax Media and NZME, the proposed merger was intended to strengthen the print sector amid declining readership and increasing competition for advertising from Google and Facebook.

Speaking about how the competitive landscape

will evolve, lawyers say there has been a considerable change in media ownership patterns in New Zealand.


Meanwhile, the digital news market expanded in 2017 while deal activity dropped in the first half of the year, according to data from Mergermarket, a market information provider.


Sinclair Broadcast Group’s $3.9 billion acquisition of Tribune Media is among the five megadeals of 2017, and under regulatory review.  


In a deal that is “all about the future of TV”, 21st Century Fox announced plans to sell the majority of its business to Walt Disney Co. for $52.4 billion.


The agreement was announced in December 2017 and will be the largest media merger to date.


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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