The European Federation of Journalists, which represents more than 260,000 across Europe, plans to seek assurances from the new owners of the Norwegian media company Orkla Media regarding editorial independence across the group’s range of titles in nine countries in Western and Eastern Europe.
The sale by the Norwegian industrial conglomerate Orkla ASA of its media arm to Mecom, an investment fund managed by former Daily Mirror chief David Montgomery, has raised fears that the group’s reputation for independent journalism may be compromised by hard-nosed business interests that put pressure on journalistic standards.
“We shall be seeking assurances that the new owners intend to maintain respect for quality and independent journalism as well as pushing ahead with social dialogue initiatives that have strengthened the group’s reputation in Europe,” said Arne König, the EFJ Chair.
Orkla Media is the fifth-largest media company in the Nordic area, employing 7,000 people and includes newspapers, magazines, radio, television, digital media and direct marketing businesses in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Poland, Lithuania and Ukraine.
This purchase is the latest in a series of acquisitions by Mecom since October, when it agreed to buy the Berlin publishing group Berliner Verlag. Montgomery followed that up in February with the acquisition of the Hamburger Morgenpost, Hamburg's second largest daily newspaper. Then, in April, Mecom agreed to buy Dutch group LMG from the Telegraaf Media Groep.
Orkla Media has established a well functioning European Works Council, which was extended with the participation of the EFJ in 2003 to Poland, and the company respects the principles of independent journalism, establishing a set of "publishing principles" which apply to all of Orkla's international media activity.
“Standards have been set that we hope will be maintained and developed across the Mecom network,” said König. “This new conglomerate is growing fast within the European media scene and we want to make sure that it will make quality, high standards of journalism and social justice the key elements in its strategies for the future.”
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The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries.