After months of speculation, the Boyle based Roscommon Herald newspaper and it’s sister titles have been sold.
Staff were informed of the sale in a “note” on Wednesday afternoon.
The Herald is among a number of titles that have been purchased by Irish Times DAC from ailing Cork based publisher Landmark Media.
According to RTE.ie, the owners of The Irish Times have agreed a deal to buy the publishing and media interests of the Landmark Media Group, which owns the Irish Examiner newspaper as well as a number of other media assets including the ‘Herald.
The value of the transaction has not been disclosed, but according to the RTE.ie report, it is understood the Irish Times paid only a nominal amount to acquire the assets.
Landmark Media are reportedly carrying debt of around €16 million, however, it is understood AIB may write off around €10m of that debt as part of the deal.
The Irish Times DAC confirmed its interest in acquiring the Irish Examiner in September and Landmark Media is already a printing customer of the The Irish Times.
Staff at the newspapers were told this afternoon that the deal involved the purchase of the entire business of Landmark Media.
There is no indication at this stage if the acquisition will result in any redundancies, however, Managing Director of The Irish Times DAC Liam Kavanagh said the company is “fully committed to working with the respective Union groups in each company on any restructuring proposals that will need to be made”.
Landmark Media employs around 400 people.
Around 250 of these work from the company’s Cork offices and are employed in the Irish Examiner and Evening Echo newspapers and in their related online and digital businesses.
The remainder work in the company’s regional titles and radio stations.
Landmark Media is owned by Tom and Ted Crosbie. The family has owned the Examiner since the 19th century and took most of the assets of the old Thomas Crosbie Holdings out of receivership four years ago.
Current Landmark Group CEO Tom Murphy will exit the business at legal completion of the deal.
Landmark’s other media titles include the Evening Echo, Western People, and Waterford News & Star newspapers, the Roscommon Herald, as well as the Nationalist newspapers in Carlow, Kildare and Laois.
It also owns two regional radio stations – Beat and WLR FM – and has a 17% share in Red FM, as well as a number of online publications, including Breakingnews.ie, BenchWarmers, and Recruit Ireland.
Mr Kavanagh said: “The opportunity to acquire Landmark Media is an important strategic decision for The Irish Times.
“It is the intention to retain the core identity and independence of the respective news publishing titles. Each will retain their editorial integrity,” he added.
Commenting on the deal, National Union of Journalists Irish Secretary Séamus Dooley said: “We are seeking a meeting with management to explore the implications for staff and will be seeking assurances regarding security of employment in the newspapers and radio stations involved in the proposed acquisition.
“We welcome the assurance by Liam Kavanagh, Managing Director that the editorial integrity and independence of the titles will be maintained and I have already got an unambiguous assurance that trade union recognition will continue.
“Workers employed by Landmark Media Group have been operating under a cloud of uncertainty and today’s development will help ease the fears of our members.” concludes the RTE report
Meanwhile, it is understood the number of people working for the Roscommon Herald has fallen drastically over the last few years.
All that remain in Boyle and Roscommon are sales and editorial personnel and a small number of administrative staff.
Production and finance departments were moved from Boyle to Cork in 2014 and production in 2015, severing a 155 year link with the town.
Current circulation figures for the ‘Herald from the Audited Bureau of Circulation (the company that measures circulation in the industry) are not available as the Roscommon Herald has withdrawen from having their sales figures audited independently by this company.