Ownership changes on the way for Irish media

A joint bid by The Irish Times and the Crosbie-owned company Landmark Media is one of two serious bidders for the Sunday Business Post, according to the Sunday Times. Post Publications

The Sunday Business Post. Picture used under Flickr/Creative Commons licence, credit: -Gene-. All rights reserved.

The Sunday Business Post. Picture used under Flickr/Creative Commons licence, credit: -Gene-. All rights reserved.

Ltd, which owned the Sunday Business Post, is in examinership. At court hearings earlier this month, it was reported that four serious offers had been received, and there had been 11 expressions of interest for the company.

If successful, it is likely the Times would print the newspaper and it may see the Post’s daily business coverage folded into an enhanced Times offering. The Post already has a paywall on its online edition, and the Times are thought to be considering introducing a metered paywall later in the year.

The Post, which was owned by the Crosbies, went into examinership in March. In court hearings, it was reported that revenues at the newspaper dropped by more than 50 per cent from €15.6m in 2007 to €7.3m in 2012. The newspaper has weekly sales of 40,000. Circulation revenue fell from €4.9m in 2007 to €3.69m in 2012, while ad revenue collapsed 68 per cent during the same period.

The period of examinership runs out on May 15, while a creditors’ meeting is scheduled for May 3.

Meanwhile, the ownership deck chair shuffling of debt-laden Irish media is set to continue, reports the Sunday Independent, with news that UTV may be interested in taking majority ownership of TV3.

That newspaper’s editor Tom Lyons reports that the TV station’s current owners private equity group Doughty Hanson also also contemplating buying back its debts from the former Anglo Irish Bank – now in liquidation – from liquidator KPMG.

What impact UTV’s move would have is unclear, but it would potentially put pressure on RTE, who is already struggling to break even. The State broadcaster has lost €100m in advertising since the start of the recession, and the broadcast advertising sector is under serious pressure from Sky, which sells opt-out ads into the Irish market. In a recent interview, RTE’s director general Noel Curran said Sky had “fundamentally altered” the Irish advertising market, and estimated the broadcasting giant was taking between €500m and €600m a year out of Ireland.

TV3 was bought by Doughty Hanson for €256m in 2006, financed by €140m equity and the remainder financed by Anglo Irish Bank. The station is now valued about €15m according to Lyons.

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