The 'Sunday Tribune' newspaper went into receivership yesterday. Independent News and Media (INM), which owns 29.9pc of Tribune Newspapers, appointed a receiver to the Sunday newspaper on the request of Tribune Newspapers.
Staff at the weekly paper were told of the development at a meeting yesterday afternoon.
Gordon Colleary, chairman of Tribune Newspapers, said the decision was taken after INM said ongoing funding for the 'Sunday Tribune' was no longer viable.
"The decision to call in a receiver has been taken with great regret. The 'Sunday Tribune' has been ever-inventive in carving a niche as a quality news title in the face of competition from much larger players with deeper pockets. We recognise that additional investment will be required if it is to play a continuing role in the highly competitive Sunday market," Mr Colleary said.
In a separate statement, INM said it would provide adequate funding to enable the receiver to assess the prospects of selling the business as a going concern. It has committed enough money to pay the paper's 43 staff until the end of the month.
"INM remains hopeful that new investors may emerge to safeguard the future of this quality Sunday title," the statement said.
A decision will be made in the next 24 hours by the receiver, Jim Luby of McStay Lubys, on whether the 'Sunday Tribune' will be published this Sunday.
INM has been an investor in the 'Sunday Tribune' since 1992. It has provided significant cash funding to the newspaper over recent years.
But the paper has never made a profit and has been losing up to €2.5m a year in a tough market where there are 17 Sunday newspaper titles.
The paper increased circulation for a brief period after relaunching the product in a compact format last October. But the paper's circulation fell to pre-launch levels in recent times.
A spokesman for INM said the 'Sunday Tribune' was the last of the non-profit making titles in the Independent group. "All of our other titles are very profitable," he said.
INM sold its London title to Russian oligarch Alexander Lebedev last year.
Founded in 1982, the paper has had a number of high-profile editors, including broadcasters Vincent Browne and Matt Cooper. Noirin Hegarty is its current editor.
Irish secretary of the National Union of Journalists Seamus Dooley said the union was gravely disappointed at the threat to the 'Sunday Tribune' and employment at the paper.
"The 'Sunday Tribune' has played an important role in Irish journalism since its inception and has led the way in investigative journalism and political coverage," he added.