Western Mail boss in heckling row at assembly debate

By Clive Betts

A Welsh Assembly member asked for a committee to consider removing
Western Mail managing director Keith Dye from a meeting because of his
behaviour during a discussion on the “excessive influence” which
Trinity Mirror newspapers possess in the country.

AM Leighton Andrews told the chairwoman: “We must ask whether he [Dye] should be removed from the committee room.”

Dye
had heckled Andrea Jones, of union Amicus. She had referred to the
closure of the Welsh Daily Mirror and the Sports Echo in Cardiff, and
subsequent job losses.

Dye had strenuously objected to papers
presented to the assembly’s culture committee, which focus on the 35
per cent profit his company manages in Wales, according to the annual
report, and question the need for staff cuts.

He disagreed strongly that the press in Wales is weaker than in Scotland.

Academic
Dr James Thomas, for the NUJ, had complained about the “absence of a
strong, agenda-setting set of newspapers” in Wales, where 85 per cent
of the daily paper consumption is produced in England, while 85 per
cent of Scots papers are produced north of the border.

Dye was
told by assembly members he was following a London – rather than a
Welsh – agenda, designed to boost the share price. But he said the NUJ
report was “extremely misleading”, and that the economy had begun to
turn down; the NUJ responded by saying its facts were taken from the
company’s annual report.

Assembly members may now invite Dr
Thomas to give evidence to examine the “democratic deficit” some of
them believe the press delivers to Wales.

Dye told the committee
that the Western Mail was increasing circulation by 4.1 per cent after
a relaunch because of “unprecedented investment”.

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