INN closes with loss of 16 jobs

 

Independent Network News (INN) has confirmed it is to close at the end of the month with the loss of 16 jobs.

In a statement, INN chief executive John O'Connor said the service would close on October 30th next. He blamed a collapse in advertising revenue in the first quarter of the year.

The local stations which own INN held a shareholders' meeting last night and the decision to close was confirmed at an extraordinary general meeting this morning. Staff were informed at a meeting in INN offices on Lower Mount Street this lunchtime.

INN, which was set up in 1997, supplies national and international news to 21 local radio stations around the country. Local stations use its service to supplement their own news services and help meet the contractual commitment to fill 20 per cent of schedules with news or current affairs.

Mr O'Connor said: "Unfortunately the company is no longer financially viable and is making unsustainable losses on a monthly basis, to the extent that the board, having considered all other options, has been left with no alternative but to arrive at this very difficult decision".

"This is a particularly arduous and sad moment for our skilled and dedicated journalistic team at INN. Their hard work and commitment has been the corner stone of INN's achievements over the past twelve years and we thank them for their support and effort throughout."

Last year, a station in the northwest signed a deal to take a newsfeed from Newstalk, the national talk station owned by Denis O'Brien's Communicorp group. This was the first time a local station opted not to take a national news feed from INN.

Should INN close, a number of other operators, including Communicorp, TV3 and UTV, which owns a number of radio stations in the Republic, are believed to be interested in providing a replacement service.

The National Union of Journalists has expressed “shock and anger” at the way the news was broken to the staff.

Irish Secretary Séamus Dooley said the announcement was handled in a “disgraceful manner”. He said news of the planned closure was broadcast on radio and published on websites prior to staff being informed by management.

“Fifteen journalists learned that they would lose their jobs through media outlets, that is simply unacceptable. It is not too much to expect that the company would have taken steps to ensure that staff were made aware of the board’s decision prior to it entering the public domain,” he said.

“INN staff have made huge sacrifices over the years and are paid well below the market rate for national journalists. They have tolerated a pay freeze and the non-replacement of staff and their efforts are rewarded by this cavalier treatment.”

Mr Dooley said the NUJ is to seek an urgent meeting with management to explore alternative options to closure and ways of saving the jobs. He said the closure of INN would have “serious implications for media diversity and competition within the independent commercial radio sector”.