INM takeover of Celtic Media Group to be examined

Denis Naughten orders BAI review of the ‘implications’ of the proposed merger

Independent House on Talbot Street, Dublin. The BAI is to review Independent News & Media (INM)’s proposed takeover of the Celtic Media Group. Photograph: Fran Veale/The Irish Times

Independent House on Talbot Street, Dublin. The BAI is to review Independent News & Media (INM)’s proposed takeover of the Celtic Media Group. Photograph: Fran Veale/The Irish Times

 

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) is to examine the implications of the proposed takeover of the Celtic Media Group of local newspapers by Independent News & Media (INM).

Minister for Communications Denis Naughten has confirmed he has sought a full review of the proposed merger.

In a statement, a Department of Communications spokesman said: “This assessment will be undertaken by the BAI, who will provide a report and recommendation to the Minister within 80 working days.

“In line with the Media Merger Guidelines and the relevant legislation, Minister Naughten proposes to appoint an advisory panel to provide an opinion to the BAI.”

The proposed deal would see INM gain control of seven regional newspapers, including the Anglo-Celt in Co Cavan, the Meath Chronicle and the Connaught Telegraph.

Celtic Media employs about 100 staff and is led by Frank Mulrennan, a former Irish Independent business editor.

Reports say that Mr Mulrennan – who led a management buy-out of Celtic Media in 2012 – will join INM as part of the transaction.

INM already owns a number of local newspapers, including the Fingal Independent, the Kerryman, the Sligo Champion, the Wexford People and the Bray People.

Opposition

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has opposed the takeover and had asked the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission to block it.

The union said INM should not be allowed to further expand its newspaper stable, given its current dominant position in the Irish market.

The BAI will be asked to determine whether the proposed takeover has implications for media plurality.

The public will be allowed to make submissions on the deal to the BAI.

The Oireachtas Committee on Communications, Climate Action and Environment will be also be able to make a submission to the authority.

The INM group has said it is willing to co-operate fully with the BAI for the review.

It said it believes consolidation within the print media sector is essential for the sector’s survival.