Wednesday July 25,2012 : IS POKERSTARS PLANNING TO ACQUIRE POKER NEWS SITE?
Extraordinary op-ed piece speculates on the possibility
The possibility of Tony Guouga's Poker News being acquired by Pokerstars was explored in an extraordinary op-ed article published Tuesday by Vancouver-based Poker Listings.com writer Matthew Showell.
His rather harsh assertions are unlikely to go down well at the Poker News offices, and have already come in for criticism in comments from readers responding to the article here: http://www.pokerlistings.com/opinion-pokerstars-to-acquire-pokernews-60240.
It does not appear from the article that either Pokerstars or Poker News were invited to comment, although it is an op-ed piece.
Showell claims that there are "signs" pointing to a Pokerstars acquisition, identifying these as:
* Poker News cutting staff and accepting advertising buys from less than reputable services, indicating business difficulties developed since Black Friday.
* Poker News has begun hiring cheaper, less experienced field reporters, phasing out key full time positions. Showell quotes the case of reporter Eric Ramsey, who he alleges was told that the company could no longer afford his position.
* The acquisition of Poker News as a major industry media resource is the next "logical" step for Pokerstars in strengthening its dominant market position.
* He points to the "extremely tight" working relationship between the two companies, giving examples of events and staff overlaps.
Showell points out that an acquisition of Poker News would not be an unprecedented move, noting that the online poker provider bought PokerPages.com last year. The content is now focused on Pokerstars, "written by the same freelancers who work for the PokerStars Blog."
Showell laments the possibility of an acquisition, claiming that "if PokerNews becomes a mouthpiece for PokerStars it throws their editorial agenda into question in terms of unbiased news." He adds that it could result in "fewer perspectives, less dissention with the popular opinion and ultimately a more narrow view of what’s really happening in the poker world."
He appears to hint at the dangers of a Pokerstars monopoly, noting the rumours of an attempted takeover of Full Tilt Poker, but then softens the Pokerstars blow with several compliments about the Isle of Man group and its operational conduct.
Showell concludes what will inevitably be construed as an attack on a competitor in some quarters by observing:
"The key is for PokerStars to be up front and transparent. Rather than attempting to shape popular opinion by manipulating the news they must continue to offer the same service and support that made them the biggest to begin with.
"But most importantly if they do acquire PokerNews, they must make it clear that the site is no longer an unbiased news resource, but rather a dynamic advertisement for PokerStars."
The riposte from Poker News and its famously outspoken owner is likely to be interesting.