Communications minister Denis Naughten has two months to decide whether or not to approve the proposed purchase of the Celtic Media Group (CMG) by Independent News & Media (INM) following the go-ahead from the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission. The minister must now consider the deal on the grounds of media plurality.
He has to decide whether the takeover falls in line with ‘diversity of ownership’ and ‘diversity of content’. The minister can give the deal the green light, with or without conditions. If he rules the purchase is against the public interest on media plurality grounds, he can then refer the matter to the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI).
The BCI will investigate the matter on similar grounds and report within 80 days.
The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) and some left-wing politicians are opposed to INM but principally its largest shareholder, Denis O’Brien, from securing ownership of CMG’s seven local newspapers, which include the Anglo-Celt in Cavan, the Meath Chronicle and the Connacht Telegraph, under Frank Mulrennan’s management.
Boylan urged the minister to show “political backbone” and block the deal. But O’Brien’s spokesman, James Morrissey, questioned the impartiality of the Sinn Fein MEP for Dublin, who recently released a media report. Morrissey said the ‘independent study’ was never intended to be a report on the concentration of media ownership in Ireland.
“Sinn Féin is very diligent and adept when it comes to pushing its agendas”, he added.