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Lynn Boylan MEP supports NUJ's call for Denis O'Brien to appear before Oireachtas committee

31 January, 2017 - by Senator Lynn Boylan

Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan has today expressed her support for the call of the NUJ for businessman Denis O'Brien to appear before the Oireachtas Communications Committee in relation to Independent News & Media's proposed acquisition of the Celtic Media Group.

The Dublin MEP also stated that she has written to the Minister for Communications Denis Naughten urging him to use his position to request the Oireachtas Communications Committee to hold full public hearing on the proposed takeover.

Ms Boylan made the comments while speaking at The European Centre for Press and Media Freedom's 'Newsocracy' conference in Dublin this morning.

She said;

"The call made by the NUJ for Mr O'Brien to appear before the Oireachtas Communications Committee in entirely appropriate and, indeed, a necessity. 

"The Competition Authority has approved the merger but the Minister has referred it to the BAI to carry out further analysis. Mr O’Brien's interests in print media cannot be looked at in isolation, the merger proposal must take account of his interests in broadcast media. 

"Independent News & Media, of which Mr O'Brien is a minority share holder, already controls five national titles and thirteen regional papers.

“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 and any such acquisition or merger must be subject to the appropriate level of scrutiny by the relevant bodies. The accumulation of communicative power is at endemic levels and provides the conditions in which wealthy individuals and organisations can amass huge political and economic power and distort the media landscape to suit their interests and views. This reality must be taken into account when weighing up these takeover attempts.

"I have written to Minister Naughten urging him to use his position to request the Oireachtas Communications Committee to hold full hearing on the matter of the proposed acquisition.

"I will also be submitting a detailed submission to the BAI analysis on the acquisition and I support the NUJ’s call for Denis O Brien to appear before the Oireachtas committee."  

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