A move by Nine Entertainment to gobble up Fairfax Media will not impinge on the print organisation’s independence, according to the architect of the deal, but a former prime minister is not so optimistic.

Nine’s chief executive Hugh Marks vowed to maintain Fairfax’s independence after his company announced the merger on Thursday morning.

‘We’re not one owner trying to homogenise out these different publications or television shows. We celebrate their differences,’ Mr Marks told the ABC.

‘Ownership is changing, there’s less owners but the publications need to live and breathe on their own two feet.’

Mr Marks’ words were dismissed by former prime minister Paul Keating, who accused Fairfax’s board of management of selling out and described Nine as a ‘lowbrow outfit’.

‘They sold out, they sold out the culture, they sold out the quality, they sold out their opportunity,’ Mr Keating said.

While many raised concerns with the merger, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull supports the proposed deal, which must still be given the nod by Australia’s competition watchdog.

Bringing them together enables two strong Australian brands, with great, long traditions, to be able to be more secure,’ Mr Turnbull told Tasmanian radio.

Former Age editor Andrew Jaspan said there had been no editorial leadership of the company for some time.