Sunday 22 October 2017

Radio boss got just minutes' notice of being fired

Martin Block: former chief executive of 4FM
Martin Block: former chief executive of 4FM
Colm Kelpie

Colm Kelpie

THE former chief executive of a radio station that was "bleeding money" was told just five minutes before a board meeting that he was being sacked, it was claimed yesterday.

Martin Block was the chief executive of Classic Hits 4FM but was let go from his €150,000 position in October 2009 -- immediately before a meeting of the station's board.

Mr Block took a case against his employers, Choice Broadcasting, at the Employment Appeals Tribunal for unfair dismissal. However, the case was resolved on its first day of hearing yesterday.

Barrister for Choice Broadcasting Tom Mallon told the tribunal that 4FM, which began broadcasting in February 2009, had lost money "hand over fist".

Mr Block, who had been the chief executive of Lite FM and programme director of FM 104, began working in March 2008.

Mr Mallon alleged that a number of contracts were being awarded and people appointed without proper procurement or tendering, and that the station was paying a high price.

He also claimed that Mr Block (61) and the board had a fundamentally different view as to the role of the chief executive and the board.

"The company will say that Mr Block was not performing his duties in a manner that was acceptable to it," Mr Mallon said.

Mr Block's barrister Ercus Stewart said his client was stunned to hear in October 2009 that he was being sacked.

And he claimed that when his client asked the board members in the meeting why he was being fired, not one person volunteered an answer, other than to say it was for a "myriad of reasons".

Mr Stewart said Mr Block wrote to the board to request a reason but received no explanation.

"I have not come across a more blatant, obvious, unfair dismissal than the way this was handled," Mr Stewart said.

He claimed the company had not followed any procedure in sacking Mr Block.

Mr Stewart had said Mr Block had performed as chief executive, did everything correctly and was seeking reinstatement.

The tribunal heard that Mr Block, of Milltown, Dublin 6, had offered his resignation in August 2009, but agreed to stay on.

Earlier in the hearing, Mr Mallon argued the case was excluded from the tribunal as Mr Block had a fixed contract. Mr Stewart denied the contract was fixed, and the tribunal agreed. The station broadcasts in Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway.

Irish Independent

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