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Irish Times completes buyout of rival daily the Irish Examiner with promise to retain title's 'core identity and independence'

The owner of the Irish Times has completed its buyout of a number of newspapers and radio stations, including rival daily the Irish Examiner.

The Irish Times Trust bought Cork-based Landmark Media’s publishing arm after the deal was cleared by the Irish competition watchdog in April.

The deal includes two daily titles, the Irish Examiner and the Evening Echo, seven weekly regional papers and Landmark’s interests in three local radio stations.

The Examiner has been run by the Crosbie family since 1872, when journalist Thomas Crosbie took it over.

In the Examiner today, Tom Crosbie, current chairman of Landmark Media, wrote: “The ownership of this paper may have changed yesterday, but that is all.

“This newspaper is so much more than that and thankfully it continues today with its fine, responsible and thorough journalism as before.”

Crosbie added that the “day of reckoning” had come for his family’s ownership of the Examiner as the “business of media is changing rapidly”.

He said the challenges facing publishers, including how to make online news pay, were a “complex problem to solve”.

The Irish Times told staff yesterday that it would retain the “core identity and independence” of each newspaper.

The internal message was published in part by the newspaper. It said: “The overall increase in audience allows the group to build a digital platform with a strong reach, countrywide and internationally.

“The consolidation also presents the opportunity to strengthen and grow existing print advertising revenues and helps to secure contract print revenues.”

The company said it aimed to create a “dynamic and vibrant business” that can “sustain itself for the longer term and where the respective media assets – national, regional and radio – will contribute significantly to the Irish media market”.

The National Union of Journalists has already engaged with the Irish Times over the buyout and received a commitment from the company to honour existing agreements.

NUJ Irish Secretary Séamus Dooley said the buyout ended a “period of great uncertainty” for staff at all the media organisations involved.

“In a challenging time for the media industry, the acquisition by The Irish Times is a welcome development,” Dooley said.

“The fact that the various titles and stations have been acquired by an indigenous company is of particular significance.

“We are encouraged by the fact that management have engaged immediately with the trade union representatives and we hope that this sets a headline for the future.

“Our priority is the preservation of terms and conditions of employment. It is encouraging that the Irish Times is strongly committed to the maintenance of the editorial independence of the titles.

“The Examiner, in particular, occupies a proud place in the history of the Irish media and will continue to do so under the new owners.”

The regional papers comprised in the deal are the Waterford News and Star, the Roscommon Herald, the Western People, the Nationalist, the Kildare Nationalist, the Laois Nationalist, and The Naas and Newbridge Nationalist.

Landmark also had 75 per cent interests in both WLR and Beat radio stations, and 17.6 per cent in Red FM in Cork, according to the Irish Times.

During its investigation, the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission found no evidence that the Irish Times and the Examiner are each other’s closest national newspaper competitor in print sales or in the sale of either print or online advertising.

It said that sales of the Irish Times are predominantly made in Leinster while the vast majority of sales of the Examiner are made in Munster.

The CCPC concluded the buyout would not lead to a substantial lessening of competition.

The deal was also cleared by Ireland’s Minister of Communications, Denis Naughton, who said it would “not adversely affect the plurality of media in the state”, and the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.

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