Objectivity, parochialness and Orkla-Mecom
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A solid piece of advocacy

Before the weekend he was likened to "Rommel" and described as a man who would throw the 'Norwegian Enlightenment project over board'. Today David Montgomery was hailed as "a sympathetic and responsible media investor" on the front page of Norway's biggest financial daily – quite a distance to travel in such a short span of time.

Montgomery must have delivered a very impressive piece of advocacy during yesterday's press conference, where Norwegian press finally got to meet the man they had depicted as an evil capitalist for such a long time. Judging from the reports in today's newpapers, quite a few journalists actually warmed to Montgomery, though many, especially Orkla Media employees, still remain sceptical.

Is he just an Irishman with the gift of the gab, or is he really the 'sympathetic and competent media investor' he presents himself as?

Most notably, Montgomery has yet to convince Norway's cultural minister, Trond Giske, of his potential to become a responsible and suited proprietor of a Norwegian media company. Giske stressed yet again today that 'his door is still open for a Norwegian solution'. After the Orkla-Mecom deal was announced last week, Giske was quoted by Norwegian newswire NTB saying (my translation): "A media owner, including Montgomery, has to be very conscious of his civic responsibilities. Norwegian media annually receive billions of Norwegian kroner [millions of pounds] in subsidies. Too much focus on profitability will undermine the foundation for this financial support." This sounded so much like a threat, that Giske was quick to stress it was only intended as "an appeal", and he has admitted that he currently has no actual power to overrule Orkla's decision to sell its newspaper arm to Mecom.


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