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High cost of UK libel cases shackles freedom of speech worldwide

Ex-Mecom bosses condemn Norwegian sale, while the divested operations vow not to become Redneck papers

"This is yet another sad chapter in Mecom's short and tragic history as a media owner in Norway and other countries," Kjell Johnsen, the former CEO of Mecom's Norwegian division, Edda Media, told Dagens Naeringsliv.

Johnsen breaks his silence
His comments in the wake of yesterday's disposal of Edda's North-Western operations, is a departure from his usual reluctance to comment on his former employer's dealings, a reluctance he has maintained since leaving Mecom in protest against David Montgomery in 2007.

However, speaking to Dagens Naeringsliv, he asserted that buying media operations in Norway and other countries at the top of the business cycle, paying a premium price with borrowed money, as Mecom has done, was a recipe for disaster.

Disappointed ex-CEO
"It is sad to see Edda Media being dismantled," Jan Moberg, who resigned just after Mecom's German deal at the start of this year, told the paper. Moberg was relieved of his administrative duties as CEO of Edda Media in October 2008 "in order to focus on new ownership solutions" for Edda, and it was rumoured it was his opposition to breaking up the Norwegian media group that spurred his resignation.


Moberg and Montgomery in happier times (photo copyrighted to and courtesy of Martin H. Jensen), edits by me

From Mecom's point of view, yesterday's deal with Polaris Media should help the ailing media group meet its debt covenant test this month, and also puts an end to speculations that Norwegian media group A-pressen was poised to take over Mecom's entire Norwegian division, which is the most profitable divison in the pan-European company.

No moustaches
Meanwhile, my favourite take on yesterday's news was Sunnmørsposten's management vehemently denying that being acquired by Polaris would turn the paper into a "Trønder" newspaper - which I, for lack of a better word, has translated to "Redneck newspaper" (have a look at this photo of a typical "Trønder" and see if you think my translation fits the bill).

Polaris, which submitted an indcative bid for Mecom's North-Western divison as early as 29 September 2008, has its power centre in Trondheim in "middle Norway" (still far north if you look at the map, much further north than I've ever been).

The region is associated with a typical "redneck" look, a prominent part of which is a moustache. Hence, Sunnmørsposten's fabulous illustration photo of yesterday, indicating that Polaris' takeover won't lead to moustaches coming into fashion among its management. For pictures of Mecom-boss David Montgomery visiting the North-Western newspapers he's now agreed to sell, check the links in the last paragraph here.

As a quick search doesn't turn up any photos on Flickr of a typical "Trønder" with a Creative Commons lincense, here's a moustache man from deneyterrio:


Now, as soon as the news of Mecom's latest divestment hit the wires yesterday, I got an email from a long-time reader who suggested I take a look at the story, "When you're ready with the snowstorm" (alluding to my dateline).

Well, it's still snowing heavily where I am, and I'm afraid I had my head down in another project yesterday, hence the delay, but since I've followed this company so closely for such a long time I can always add more context and colour than the wires...;-)


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