BAI should reject INM acquisition of Celtic Media Group - Lynn Boylan MEP
Sinn Féin MEP, Lynn Boylan, has said that in the interest of media diversity and plurality, and the interests of the Irish people, the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) should rule against the proposed merger of Celtic Media group by Independent News and Media (INM).
Echoing the National Union of Journalists, opposition to the merger Ms Boylan said:
“I believe that the Communications Minister, Denis Naughten, has passed the book on this issue by referring the matter to the BAI for a review, instead of having the bottle to adjudicate on the matter himself.
“INM, of which Denis O’Brien is a minority shareholder (29.9%), already controls five national titles, Irish Independent, Sunday Independent, The Herald, Sunday World, and Irish Daily Star. On top of this, INM controls 13 regional papers including the Carlow People, Sligo Champion, Wexford People, Wicklow People, and The Kerryman, to name but a few.
“Now, through the deal to acquire Celtic Media Group, INM want to gain control of a further seven regional newspapers, including the Anglo-Celt in Co Cavan, the Meath Chronicle and the Connaught Telegraph. This would increase their geographical footprint by 5 counties.
“Ireland already has one of the most concentrated media markets of any democracy. It is blatantly apparent that such a deal would further concentrate the media market and reduce media diversity and plurality. This is surely a bad thing for the people of Ireland, as the accumulation of such communicative power can give wealth individuals and organisations the power to distort the media landscape to suit their interests and personal views.
“In their “Report on Ownership and Control of Media Businesses in Ireland 2012-2014”, the BAI stated that “...there has been little to no consolidation of ownership of local media outlets, and hence little change to plurality deriving from ownership changes”. Therefore, it behoves the BAI to ensure that whatever plurality still remains in the local print media market continues and is not destroyed by mergers.
“Finally, I would urge anyone who is concerned with the state of media ownership or the lack of media diversity and media plurality in Ireland, to make a submission on this deal to the BAI, as I intend to do myself."