Fairfax maintains Rinehart resistance

Mining billionaire Gina Rinehart's move on Fairfax is being resisted by the company's journalists but an investment analyst thinks she should be given a chance to prove herself as a media proprietor.

Industry operators, including former editor-in-chief of The Age Andrew Jaspan, said there is a risk that Fairfax may not implement its Future of Fairfax strategy if Ms Rinehart, or a private equity firm, launches a takeover bid.

Ms Rinehart has reportedly been refused board seats at Fairfax, despite her 18.67 per cent shareholding, because she will not sign up to the company's charter of editorial independence.

It is understood the Fairfax board continues to refuse Ms Rinehart any board seats until she agrees to the independence charter but discussions are now at a stalemate.

Senior Fairfax journalists made public on Tuesday a letter written to Ms Rinehart asking that she agree to the charter, which requires that proprietors, shareholders and board members not seek to influence editorial content.

The letter has not been answered.

While Ms Rinehart has maintained public silence, she has been criticised by federal treasurer Wayne Swan and federal communications minister Stephen Conroy for not supporting the charter.

Senator Conroy told ABC Radio that while Ms Rinehart was entitled to a place on the board, she was not entitled to "trash the brand" for all other shareholders.

"If Rinehart wants to turn (Fairfax newspapers) into the mining gazette, well Ms Rinehart's entitled to, but the shareholders, the other 80 per cent, the 80 per cent of shareholders who will see the share price fall, need to know that that's what's behind it," he said.

Greg Fraser, an analyst with stock research firm Fat Prophets, said Fairfax faced risks from potential industrial action and cost blowouts during its $248 million restructure but he did not think Ms Rinehart's ascension to the board would be damaging.

"It is not appropriate for Senator Conroy to be making prognostications that she is going to trash the brand - that's counterintuitive for her to trash something that she's thrown hundreds of millions of dollars at."

However Mr Fraser also said it was unrealistic to expect newspaper owners not to seek to influence public debate.

"The past is littered with examples of newspapers using their vehicles to voice their own opinions - I think Fairfax is trying to adopt a holier-than-thou attitude," he said.

Mr Fraser said Ms Rinehart's lack of media experience should not disqualify her as current Fairfax chairman Roger Corbett, the former CEO of Woolworths, also had no media background.

"You might find that she has a perspective on running the business that could help the productivity," he said.

Advertising millionaire John Singleton, a friend of Ms Rinehart's and a former Fairfax board member, dismissed the charter of independence on Tuesday, calling it "double-dutch" and claiming journalists did not understand its purpose in an ABC radio interview.

Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance spokesman Paul Murphy said Ms Rinehart should sign the charter of independence.

"Anyone who goes onto the Fairfax board should be bound by the charter," he said.

Ms Rinehart has publicly supported campaigns against the federal government's carbon tax and has criticised climate change science.

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