NUJ reacts to Irish Daily Star takeover bid
28 July 2020
The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) in the UK and Ireland, representing journalists employed by Reach, has warned that the union will use the provisions contained within Irish media-mergers law to challenge the company’s complete takeover of the Irish Daily Star newspaper.
Reach already hold a 50 per cent stake and the bid for the Irish Daily Star comes at the same time as redundancies across the existing titles have been announced.
On Friday 24 July, Reach Publishing Group advised the Irish Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) that it intends to acquire the additional 50 per cent stake in the Irish Daily Star currently held by Independent News and Media. The announcement has angered Reach staff across the UK and Ireland now facing redundancies and cutbacks.
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:
"The NUJ represents journalists across the Reach titles. Our local representatives and officials are under enormous pressure, engaging in urgent consultations on redundancies - apparently necessary on economic grounds by a company which is simultaneously expanding its portfolio. There is seething anger among our members and we are contesting the proposed redundancies at every opportunity. We cannot stand back and allow this proposed transaction to proceed without a challenge."
In Ireland Reach, a UK-based newspaper publishing company, sells the Irish Mirror, the Irish Sunday Mirror, the Sunday People, the Daily Record, the Sunday Mail, the Daily Express, Sunday Express, Daily Star Sunday, RSVP, OK!, New! and Celtic View. Reach also operates a number of websites in Ireland.
Independent News and Media has a 50 per cent stake in the Independent Star Limited which publishes and sells the Irish Daily Star and operates two websites - star.ie and buzz.ie.
Under Irish media merger rules the CCPC must examine the proposed takeover from a competition perspective. If the application is recommended by the CCPC it is then open to the government minister responsible to order a comprehensive examination of the acquisition on a number of grounds, including corporate governance, editorial independence and adherence to industrial relations standards.
Séamus Dooley, NUJ assistant general secretary, said:
"It will be for the CCPC to examine the implications of this proposed acquisition on competition grounds. Reach is already the dominant player within the red top segment of the media market in Ireland. The Irish Daily Star has a unique perspective and is a significant newspaper in Ireland and the minister must use her powers at the appropriate juncture to protect the title.
"Under Section 28 E of the Competition Act the minister has extensive powers to investigate any acquisition. We hope she will use this power to examine the financial structure of the proposed purchaser, the corporate governance and editorial structures of Reach, and the industrial relations record of the company.
"Clearly the position of Reach is contradictory. Redundancies are being proposed across the UK and in Ireland - North and South. If they are in financial difficulty how can they spend money on the Irish Daily Star? If they are not in financial difficulty the redundancy process now underway is entirely avoidable."