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Communicorp bans journalists from Irish news website The Currency from appearing on its airwaves

The website’s editor was due to appear on Today FM this evening but this appearance was cancelled.

Ian Kehoe and Tom Lyons of The Currency.
Ian Kehoe and Tom Lyons of The Currency.
Image: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

MANAGEMENT AT DENIS O’Brien-owned Communicorp have written to staff to ask them not to invite any journalists from a new Irish media outlet onto any of the group’s stations.

News website The Currency was launched today and the site’s editor Ian Kehoe had been due to appear on Today FM’s The Last Word programme to discuss an article he wrote about the finances of Sean Quinn and his family.

Kehoe told TheJournal.ie that the article was the result of six months of investigation but that he was subsequently informed that The Last Word segment would not be going ahead.  

The Currency’s CEO Tom Lyons has also tweeted about the cancellation, saying it came at “30 minutes’ notice” and that journalists at his website have been “banned” from appearing on Communicorp stations. 

In in an email to Communicorp staff seen by TheJournal.ie, Today FM’s assistant programme director John Caddell described The Currency as “a competitor platform” and asked that contributors to it not be invited onto the station. 

TheJournal.ie understands that this applies to all Communicorp stations. 

As well as Today FM, Communicorp also owns stations such as Newstalk, Dublin’s 98FM and Spin 1038.

The email to staff states: 

Some of you may have already seen this announcement, there is a new current affairs and news website called thecurrency.news.This site will offer podcasts, events and news stories – competing directly with some of our brand offerings.While we have an advertising relationship (spot ads) with this site, I would ask that we don’t include members/staff of thecurrency.news on our contributors list, presenters or include in panel discussions – as this is a competitor platform.

Kehoe confirmed that The Currency had paid for radio ads for the new website to be broadcast during The Last Word but that they have now asked for these to be pulled. 

He described the decision to exclude its reporters from Communicorp stations as “baffling and strange”.

“We were really surprised and baffled that a radio group, another player or media outlet would take such a decision. We just do not understand,” Kehoe said.

As of now, journalism matters more than ever, and to try and censor journalism, and stories and voices, as Communicorp are doing is damaging. And I just don’t understand it.

Earlier this year, Denis O’Brien lost a legal case he took against the Sunday Business Post over newspaper articles written by Lyons and published when Kehoe was editor. 

Asked about O’Brien’s ownership of Communicorp and the decision taken by its management in relation to The Currency, Kehoe said: 

He does own the station. Obviously, Tom and I were involved in a very high-profile litigation battle with Denis O’Brien earlier this year, we have moved on with our lives to such an extent that we booked ads on Today FM, so we have literally moved on with our lives. I don’t understand the rationale, or the editorial decision, for the decision of Communicorp.

There is no indication that O’Brien had any involvement with the email sent from Communicorp management to staff. 

Almost two years ago, the CEO of Communicorp wrote to staff to inform them journalists from Irish Times journalists will not be appearing on any of the group’s stations.

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland has called for resolution to that effective ban, which it is understood remains in place.  

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Rónán Duffy

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