Business model for publishing local newspapers is "broken"

Celtic Media chief says it's titles are best protected by being part of INM group

Business model for publishing local newspapers is "broken"

The offices of Independent Newspapers on Dublin's Talbot Street

The business model for local newspapers is "broken" and the future of Celtic Media's seven titles is best protected by being part of a larger company.

That according to the group's chief executive, Frank Mulrennan, who was appearing before an Oireachtas committee examining the proposed acquisition of Celtic Media Group by independent News and Media (INM).

The deal will see INM add seven regional newspapers including the Anglo Celt in Cavan, the Meath Chronicle and the Connaught Telegraph, to the group's existing portfolio of regional print and digital titles.

Celtic Media Group is owned and managed by its Irish management team, following a management buyout of the company in June 2012.

Mr Mulrennan told the Communications Committee the company almost went out of business five years ago because of bank debts and falling revenues.

Celtic Media borrowed €5.5m in 2012, he said, but now it is faced with a broken business model in terms of publishing local newspapers.

He asked that the committee to approach the proposed sale with "an open mind" - and to disregard the so-called noise around the issue in the national media.

The committee also heard from INM chief executive Robert Pitt, who said the group's strategy is now firmly focused on digital development.

In that light, he said, no further consideration was being given to the possible purchase radio station Newstalk.