May 11, 2016 Last Updated 7:27 am

Fairfax Media and APN, New Zealand’s two largest newspaper companies, set to merge

Morning Brief: NASA reports that the number of exoplanets that are known has increased by 1,284 thanks to the four year survey mission of the Kepler space telescope

The two largest newspaper companies in New Zealand are planning to merge. Fairfax Media and APN News & Media confirmed that they are merger talks.

New Zealand newspapers“This is an important opportunity for all of our shareholders to be part of the future of content and journalism in New Zealand,” Fairfax CEO and Managing Director Greg Hywood said. “The merger would enhance the position the businesses are in to continue to deliver high quality, local content to audiences now and in the future.”

“The combination of these two businesses would provide the necessary capability to continue investing in high-quality local news, sport and entertainment at a time when advertiser commercial investment continues to fragment across international media platforms that do not invest in local content,” APN CEO Ciaran Davis said.

Both media companies are based in Australia. APN publishes New Zealand’s largest daily newspaper, The New Zealand Herald, while Fairfax Media owns the second largest paper, The Dominion Post.

The merger would allow the papers to cut production, distribution and editorial costs, but would – of course – also eliminate many jobs, a prospect that has unions concerned. There are about 3,000 employees at the two newspaper companies in New Zealand, the merger could mean the loss of up to 750 of these, according to one estimate.

“I think it will lead to a decline in the available jobs for journalists. They have already cut the numbers of subeditors to a very small number, and you can see that they are now going to cut reporters and front line journalists,” a union representative said.

Any merger would need to be approved by New Zealand’s Commerce Commission, and possibly the approval from the Overseas Investment Office, as well.

While scientists and the public continue to debate whether Pluto is a planet, or something else, NASA yesterday said that the number of exoplanets that are known has increased by 1,284. Exoplanets are planets outside out own solar system.


Source: NASA/W. Stenzel

“This announcement more than doubles the number of confirmed planets from Kepler,” said Ellen Stofan, chief scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC. “This gives us hope that somewhere out there, around a star much like ours, we can eventually discover another Earth.”

Analysis of the Kepler space telescope’s July 2015 planet candidate catalog identified 4,302 potential planets. Of these, 1,284 were found to be rocky planets – with a certainty greater than 99 percent. Another 1,327 were analyzed to like not be planets, or did not meet the 99 percent threshold. The remaining 707 are unknown or some other phenomenon.

The number of the newly discovered planets that could be inhabitable are small. Around 550 are of a similar size to Earth, but only nine orbit in their sun’s habitable zone.

For a long time it was a major task to find proof of even one exoplanet. But now nearly 5,500 have been found, thanks to Kepler’s four years of surveying. Launched in 2009, the space telescope’s mission was planned to last 3 and a half years, but the telescope is now on year seven of work. The 2018 launch of NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite will allow the agency to monitor 200,000 bright stars and search for planets.

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