The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is investigating allegations that News Corporation Australia's Geelong Advertiser has engaged in predatory pricing activities since the arrival of rival The Weekly Review.
According to the Geelong Independent, a separate local title, real estate agents have disclosed that they have been interviewed by ACCC representatives over alleged "advertising rate cuts, kickbacks and free deals" by the Geelong Advertiser.
The Weekly Review is a free real estate and lifestyle magazine delivered to homes across Melbourne and Geelong. It was founded in 2010 and is owned by Metro Media Publishing, a joint venture set up in December 2011 between Fairfax Media - owner of The Age - and Antony Catalano. It has brought significant competition to the Geelong Advertiser, which is Victoria's oldest morning newspaper.
Peter Klages, general manager of the Geelong Advertiser, said in response to the allegations: "Since its inception 173 years ago, the Geelong Advertiser has always had a strong bond with its community.
"It has always behaved honourably and honestly with its readers and its customers. It has always strived for excellence and strong public service. We strongly believe we have always behaved ethically and lawfully."
MMP, News Corp Australia, Fairfax Media and the ACCC all declined to comment.