New 2fm chief targets larger slice of advertising revenue
RTE said it wants to be much more aggressive chasing radio advertising as its flagship 2fm station seeks to regain its place as the dominant music station in the country.
That was the message from the station's new head, Dan Healy, who claimed yesterday he was focused on maximising revenue from advertising for the broadcaster.
"I've had a really positive start with media buying agencies since taking over, but I've been very clear on this.
"All I want to begin with is our fair share of the advertising pie. 2fm has a 7pc share of the listener market so I want my share of that for advertising. Since taking over four weeks ago, I've been out in the agencies asking 'where's my bloody money?'."
In a wide-ranging interview with the Irish Independent, the former Newstalk chief executive and head of Independent Radio Sales said he was in the process of overhauling 2fm and zeroing in on its core market.
"The station has a huge brand. It's about reconnecting 2fm back in to its core audience," he said.
"(Director general) Noel Curran and (MD for radio) Jim Jennings have big ambitions for us and I have to turn it around and grow the revenue."
RTE's cost base has been cut by about 30pc since 2008, and Mr Healy made clear there is little scope for further cuts within 2fm. Nevertheless, he believes he has the tools, and the staff, to grow the station's market share in its key 18- to 34-year-old target audience.
"2fm is 27 people in total – that's about the same as a local radio station. It's as lean as you are going to get it but in here it is absolutely about value for the taxpayer.
"I may have come from an independent radio background, but the atmosphere and imperatives here feel no different," he added.
RTE has come under repeated pressure from the commercial sector, especially the Independent Broadcasters of Ireland, because of the dual-funding model it operates under.
That model has prompted many in the independent sector to demand a cut of the licence fee, but Mr Healy dismisses that idea out of hand.
"I've just come from that sector, and the reality for the independents is that you apply for the licence because you intend to make money from it. You don't win the licence talking about public service broadcasting and the like.
"Now, they do deliver a very important service, especially in local areas, but when you go for a licence you aren't thinking about that. You're thinking about making money.
"Look at the likes of FM104, Today FM, and Cork's 96FM – they were all flipped for millions. Firstly, they are there to make money, so the ethos they operate under is totally different to RTE."
The public-service remit is something Mr Healy returns to again and again, preaching his message with the zeal of a recent convert.
"For example, we were at Sea Sessions in Donegal last weekend, it was pelting rain and everything else, but there were important Irish bands like The Strypes playing and we are making sure that people who can't be there in person can hear it and witness it.
"That is very important and developing Irish talent is a real responsibility with us," he adds.
Mr Healy is clear where his responsibilities lie in this regard. As far as he is concerned his primary responsibility is driving returns for the taxpayer.
"My job is to turn 2fm into profit. It was hugely profitable in the past and that money was taxpayer money, it wasn't trousered by shareholders.
"We need a strong public sector broadcaster and that is sometimes lost in the debate."