The National Union of Journalists is gravely concerned at the announcement that Independent News & Media is seeking to acquire the publishing arm of the Celtic Media Group.
Celtic Media Groups owns regional newspapers in Westmeath, Offaly, Meath, Cavan and Mayo.
In a statement Seamus Dooley, Irish Secretary has called for a full investigation into the impact of the proposed acquisition on employment, competition and media diversity, by Communications Minister Denis Naughten.
“In approving the acquisition the Minister is required to consider the issues of media diversity and plurality. This is the first time these powers can be used by the Minister, in addition to the powers of the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission.
Given the dominant role of INM we expect Mr Naughten to use his powers to order a comprehensive review of INM’s influence, direct and indirect, on the media market across all platforms in this country. This latest development raises significant questions about employment, editorial independence and diversity. In view of the powers vested in the Minister this should not be considered a ‘done deal’ and the NUJ will carefully monitor the situation. We will seek meetings with Celtic Media Group and INM to ensure the maintenance of employment at all titles and our attitude will be coloured by their response.”
He added: “We have been involved in what we thought were good faith negotiations with the Celtic Media Groups in recent months and we expect the board to honour all commitment made to the NUJ.
This latest expansion bid comes at the end of a week in which INM, the dominant newspaper publisher on the island of Ireland, announced that core editorial production functions are to be outsourced to The UK, with a loss of up to 27 permanent and contract jobs. Against the backdrop of compulsory redundancies and the transfer of jobs to the UK Mr Naughten must seek clarification from INM about how they propose to protect editorial diversity and plurality in the ownership and editorial management of the titles.