Celtic Media confirms continued publishing amid warning by Industry to Government over future of local newspaper sector
Celtic Media Group - publisher of the Meath Chronicle - has confirmed it will continue to publish its five weekly cover price titles – both in print and online – in the face of collapsing revenues due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Leading industry figures have warned of the potential closure of other titles around the country unless urgent State support is given immediately to the news publishing industry.
Celtic Media employs just over 90 people in eight different centres including the Meath Chronicle, first published in 1897. The Company’s print plant in Navan is operating as normal.
Publication of its Offaly Independent free newspaper has been suspended during the current crisis.
With over 1.5m monthly visitors to its group websites and over 230,000 Facebook followers, the group has been investing substantially in its digital model.
Frank Mulrennan, chief executive of Celtic Media Group, announced a series of measures this afternoon that include a number of editorial and sales staff having their employment temporarily suspended during the current crisis.
Such staff will avail of the Government emergency Covid-19 Pandemic payment. The numbers involved are not confirmed, but the company has paid up all staff in full until the end of March.
Other staff have agreed to work shorter hours next month and all managers within the company have offered to take substantial pay cuts on a temporary basis.
“I am so proud of how my colleagues throughout the centres are responding to this crisis situation for us all in local businesses,” said Mr Mulrennan.
“By acting quickly once we saw the scale of revenue downturn in the last fortnight, we are putting in place a lower cost platform during these crisis weeks to allow us emerge as a strong business once the economy recovers.”
This week's front page of the Meath Chronicle
In a joint letter going to Oireachtas members, Gavan Becton, editor of Meath Chronicle and Johnny O’Hanlon, director of Local Ireland, urged immediate state support for the local newspaper titles.
“Some publishers fear their ability to survive beyond the next few months without immediate Government support,” the letter states.
“We cannot overstate the scale of the crisis facing the news publishing industry in the coming weeks and we are asking the State to ensure we can continue to fulfil our public service role in society.
Gavan Becton, in a personal statement to his readers said: "The Meath Chronicle has served the people of Co Meath for over 120 years and now we hope our communities will respond in kind and support us through this difficult time."