Mickey Mouse media group of the Week
Tullamore Beta Limited, the owners of the TV3 channel, Ireland’s second TV channel and its main so-called commercial channel, published their financial results for 2011 during the week. Remember this is the group with €140m of borrowings from state-owned IBRC which has agreed to park €80m of the debt pending what is understood to be a future sale of the channel by the main investor Doughty Hanson. The channel lost €7m in 2011, and apparently the advertising market in 2012 places another juicy loss on the cards in 2012. There was surprise that Doughty Henson were paid €3m in interest last year on loans, whilst IBRC didn’t receive a sausage on the €80m that has been parked.
Over at Independent News and Media, things seem to have gone from bad to worse, with the share price touching 8c on Thursday valuing the company at just €40m before recovering on Friday to 9c. When the new CEO of IN&M Vincent Crowley took over in April 2012, he described the financial condition of the company as “perilous” and with borrowings of over €400m and a balance sheet that is insolvent to the tune of €205m at the end of June 2012, that assessment seems sound. Yesterday, staff at IN&M were briefed on the so-called Project Resolute, the name given to the initiatives to restructure the IN&M business and bring it back from the brink. Apparently redundancies and further pay-cuts are on the cards and there is going to be some merging of operations between the Independent and the Evening Herald.
Surprise of the Week
In Court 6 at the Four Courts yesterday, the judge Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne, presided over a packed court-room as she read out her judgment on Sean Quinn senior’s conduct in a scheme to place assets beyond the reach of his creditor, the former Anglo Irish Bank now known as IBRC. Sean Quinn himself sat immediately behind his nemesis Mike Aynsley, the CEO of IBRC with the slighty Disneyesque face. About two thirds of the way through the reading out of the judgment, Sean’s face winced as if he was mouthing “giddy-up” to a cow, as he realised the confirmation of a jail sentence was coming. But the whole tone of yesterday indicated that Sean knew he was going to jail. Two weeks ago at a previous hearing, the court-room was packed to the gunnels with a phalanx of burly-looking Sean Quinn supporters – these supporters were missing yesterday and there was a more subdued, less threatening base of supporters present. Judge Dunne read out her judgment dispassionately and there was no personal comment or provocation, save for comments that had been previously made. Was Judge Dunne sensitive to criticism directed at her, herself over the summer? And coming on to the surprise..
The judge imposed a term of nine weeks which juuuust about envelopes Christmas and New Year, two occasions that you would expect to have deep significance to Sean Quinn the 66-year old patriarch with a large family. You would wonder what calculations went through Judge Dunne’s mind when arriving at a precise nine weeks. But the main surprise was when Judge Dunne, having delivered her sentence, sought to establish if the sentence would be appealed, and Sean’s barrister told the judge that he would consult with his client to see if he wanted to appeal. It seemed the judge expected the sentence to be appealed and a stay on the sentence to be sought pending the outcome of that appeal but Sean came back and decided to start the sentence there and then.
The judge was surprised.
Referendum development of the Week
For what very little it’s worth, there is wholehearted support for a “Yes” vote in the Childrens Referendum next Saturday. It is worrying though, that we live in a republic with a constitution which presently doesn’t protect children or offer them basic opportunities being promoted in this campaign, and that we can’t achieve the objectives promoted in the campaign through changes to legislation.
On Thursday, the High Court dismissed a challenge by citizen Mark McCrystal to stop the referendum on the grounds that there was bias in favour of a “yes” vote in the Government’s position. He provided the Court with an intriguing list of costs which the Government is directly incurring – shown above – and, in addition the Referendum Commission is set to cost us €1.9m. There is to be a Supreme Court appeal on Tuesday next 6th November, of the High Court judgment. That didn’t stop Minister for Finance Michael Noonan on Thursday last claiming that the Government had won the Supreme Court appeal – increasingly you have to double-check any utterance from the finance minister.
In the interests of balance in the debate on the Childrens Referendum, remember:
(Image above produced by Japlandic, contact here )
Contemner of the Week
In the High Court yesterday, Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne peppered her sturdy judgment in the Sean Quinn case with the term “contemner”, one who views something with contempt or in a legal sense, one who is judged in contempt of court. Sean Quinn was adjudged a contemner and has now started a nine week stretch in the ‘Joy. But this was the week when one of Ireland’s most senior bankers, the chief executive of Bank of Ireland Richie Boucher was accused of treating an Oireachtas finance committee with contempt with his minimalist and allegedly-evasive answers. And over in the US which is set for its presidential election on Tuesday next, Republican Mitt Romney was accused of showing contempt for the 47% of Americans excluded from the benefits of his crusade in life.
And spare a thought for the producers of “Anglo: the Musical”, who are not in contempt of court, but they apparently risked prejudicing the forthcoming criminal trial of former Anglo chairman, Sean Fitzpatrick and others, and the producers have now had to agree to drop the inclusion of Sean Fitzpatrick’s character in their show. Which is going to pose enormous challenges to the production. A little like “Jaws” without the shark.
The show will be performed at the Bord Gais Energy theatre in south Dublin Docklands from 14-25th November, 2012 – details here.
Specialness of the Week
The US was hit by Hurricane Sandy during the week which caused devastation across the north east of the country, but spare a thought for the marketing folks at Kellogg’s which produces “Special K” the diet breakfast cereal. In the depths of the crisis when hordes had bought nearly everything off the shelves of US grocery stores, they left behind Special K – above photograph, top right. Just how desperate do we have to be to buy it? Just keep that in mind next time Kellogg’s promotes the cereal with a bevy of sylph-like loveliness.
Over in Germany, the shine might be coming off our own specialness with German chancellor Angela Merkel telling a press conference with our own Taoiseach Enda Kenny
“Ireland indeed is one of the shining examples of how Europe will emerge stronger from the crisis than it went in”
So now, we are just “one” of the shining examples. You might be scratching your head to identify the “other” shining examples. And you might be a little crestfallen to realise we’re not as “special” as we were given to believe.