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Denis O'Brien hits back at 'malicious' allegations over his editorial influence

In a broadside attack published today in the Irish Times, the media tycoon attacked Eamon Dunphy and much of the Irish media for its coverage of him.

Image: Sasko Lazarov /Photocall Ireland

DENIS O’BRIEN HAS hit back at allegations by Eamon Dunphy that he has too much editorial influence over the media outlets he owns in Ireland, describing the comments as “malicious” and “simply not true”.

In an opinion piece in today’s Irish Times the businessman also attacked Independent News & Media (INM), threatened Dunphy and Sam Smyth with legal action, and criticised journalism in Ireland for its “nastiness and cynicism”.

The media tycoon was responding to comments made by Eamon Dunphy on his final Newstalk radio show earlier this month where he said that O’Brien “hates journalism”. Dunphy resigned from the O’Brien-owned station after the removal of Sam Smyth from his Sunday morning talk show on Today FM.

In the piece, O’Brien criticises Dunphy’s claim to have left Newstalk in solidarity with other workers, saying “Dunphy left because of money”.

He also criticises the Irish media – in particular INM titles, the Irish Times and RTE –  for the “nastiness and cynicism” in its coverage of him since Sam Smyth’s departure from Today FM.

“Because Today FM decided to drop a presenter of a programme that had been running for 14 years and had falling audience numbers, suddenly there is an eagerness to depict me as a pariah among journalists, columnists and broadcasters,” O’Brien wrote.

O’Brien owns two national radio stations – Today FM and Newstalk – plus a number of regional stations.  He also has a 21.6 per cent stake in INM.

The media tycoon rejected Dunphy’s suggestion that O’Brien “hates journalism”, saying that despite being the largest shareholder in INM for the past four years, he has endured a “prolonged, nasty, well-orchestrated campaign against me across a range of issues” from several of the group’s newspaper titles.

The hostile reaction to my shareholding in IN&M has been seamlessly executed through the editorial pages of all their publications. The editorial pages reflect the views of senior management faultlessly.

The media owner also threatened Sam Smyth and Eamon Dunphy with legal action if they publish or utter defamatory falsehoods about him.

O’Brien was also critical of the Sunday Independent, saying it has a “unique position on the Irish media landscape for all the wrong reasons”. He questioned the validity of the paper’s regular opinion polls, describing them as being “of questionable provenance”.

Earlier this year a Sunday Independent poll said that 87 per cent of respondents did not believe Denis O’Brien’s attack on the Moriarty Tribunal and its findings.

Read more: Dunphy, Hook, Smyth, O’Brien and Byrne – the Twitter war

“Denis O’Brien hates journalism” – Eamon Dunphy’s last show on Newstalk

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