Australian Community Media executive chairman and Prime Media shareholder Antony Catalano has confirmed he will vote against Seven West Media's proposal to swallow its regional TV affiliate.
Mr Catalano, who has a stake of more than 14 per cent in Prime with fellow ACM owner Alex Waislitz's Thorney Investment Group, issued a statement on Monday as WIN Corporation chairman Bruce Gordon, who holds more than 11 per cent of Prime, announced that he had also rejected Seven's $64million takeover.
"The decision by the Prime board to offer a special three cent, fully franked dividend does not change our view that the bid price by Seven West Media continues to represent unfair value for shareholders," Mr Catalano said.
"As a result, we intend to vote against the scheme of arrangement."
Seven's bid needs the support of 50 per cent of Prime shareholders and 75 per cent of votes cast at a meeting on December 19.
Regional publisher ACM is the owner of The Canberra Times, and operates more than 160 other newspapers and websites, including the Newcastle Herald, The Border Mail, Bendigo Advertiser and The Examiner in Tasmania.
Mr Catalano said that when he and Mr Waislitz bought ACM from Nine Entertainment Co, they stated publicly that their intention was to build Australia's largest regional multi-media business.
"Prime Media was always part of our strategic focus and our interest in the business was made clear to Prime and Seven West earlier this year," he said. "We believe the long-term future for Prime is to work with other regional media companies to achieve operational efficiencies that create more sustainable businesses so we can each better serve our regional audiences who represent 36 per cent of all Australians."
Urgent regulatory change was required to ensure regional Australians had continued access to local news.
"ACM and Prime Media largely operate in the same areas and it is our strong view that we can work with management to achieve operational synergies," Mr Catalano said.
"If the government takes the necessary steps to change legislation and the logical step of including Facebook in the voices test, it can take credit for providing a landscape where regional media companies can once again thrive and where regional Australians have access to intelligent, compelling and informative news coverage of the issues affecting their lives."
WIN's Mr Gordon described the media ownership legislation as "out of date".
The Sydney Morning Herald reported Prime chairman John Hartigan as describing the opposition of Mr Catalano and Mr Gordon as "not ideal" given the pace of regulatory reform.
"Anyone who has been around the blocks of Canberra particularly when it comes to media regulation knows it's a slow-moving animal," Mr Hartigan said.