Page last updated at 12:07 GMT, Thursday, 15 January 2009

Group denies paper merger claims

The Western Mail
Dai Davies said Wales had seen a 'haemorrhaging of media jobs'

The owners of the Western Mail and Daily Post newspapers have denied that there are any plans to amalgamate them.

Trinity Mirror announced on Wednesday that it was merging its Wales and north west England regions.

But it said there were no plans to merge the paper titles or move printing of the Western Mail outside Wales.

Blaenau Gwent MP Dai Davies and AM Trish Law, both independents, have urged debates on what they term the "crisis of the lack of media in Wales".

Two senior managers, managing director Keith Dye and finance director Stuart Thomas, have left Media Wales, which also publishes the South Wales Echo, Wales on Sunday, and local newspapers in the south Wales valleys.

Wales is becoming a media wasteland in which only the publicly subsidised BBC and S4C seem secure... this is very, very worrying for democracy
Dai Davies MP

Mrs Law said Trinity Mirror's announcement that it was combining its north west England and Wales regions looked very much like the Daily Post in north Wales and the Western Mail were being "amalgamated".

"Does that mean they will share resources?" asked the AM.

"Does it mean that some staff and buildings will go? Will the Western Mail be printed in England to save costs? These are the very serious doubts and questions being raised by staff there," she said.

'Less reporting'

Mr Davies added: "We have seen a haemorrhaging of media jobs at ITV Wales, at Trinity Mirror, with Northcliffe papers, in commercial radio.

"Wales is becoming a media wasteland in which only the publicly subsidised BBC and S4C seem secure. This is very, very worrying for democracy.

He added: "Since 1999 we have seen a vast increase in powers to politicians in Wales and yet more and more journalists losing their jobs, and less and less reporting of politics and political debate and decision-making."

Trinity Mirror issued a statement on Wednesday outlining its plans to incorporate the Media Wales business in a region combined with Trinity Mirror North West and North Wales.

The statement said "as a consequence" Mr Dye and Mr Thomas were leaving the company immediately.

We continue to invest in the Western Mail and our Welsh businesses and we remain committed to providing quality journalism and unrivalled media coverage of Wales, both in print and online
Sara Wilde, Trinity Mirror

In another statement released on Thursday Sara Wilde, regional managing director, Trinity Mirror North West and Wales, said: "Following the announcement of the creation of a North West and Wales region of Trinity Mirror we would like to clarify that there are no plans to amalgamate the Liverpool or Welsh Daily Post with the Western Mail.

"Furthermore, there are no intentions to move printing of the Western Mail to Liverpool.

"We continue to invest in the Western Mail and our Welsh businesses and we remain committed to providing quality journalism and unrivalled media coverage of Wales, both in print and online."

Redundancies

As well as calling for debates, both Mr Davies and Mrs Law have written to Sly Bailey, Trinity Mirror's chief executive, asking for a statement on the future of both the Western Mail and the Daily Post.

Mr Davies said he had already written to the culture secretary about the last round of job cuts which saw a number of editors at the company lose their jobs and several weekly newspapers being cut back or amalgamated across the south Wales valleys.

Last September it was announced 17 posts were being cut by ITV Wales, as its parent company ITV News reduced regional services.

In October 2007, it was announced there would be up to 155 redundancies at BBC Wales over five years as part of a wider reorganisation.

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