Friday 23 February 2018

Newstalk win bid to supply local radio news

Laura Noonan

NEWSTALK has won the battle to supply syndicated news services to most of Ireland's local radio stations for the next three years.

The Communicorp-owned station was awarded the coveted contract yesterday, having seen off rival, UTV Radio Ireland.

The development comes six months after the collapse of Independent Network News (INN), which had been supplying the service.

Newstalk initially won an interim contract to supply 17 local stations, while UTV supplies Galway Bay FM and its own stations.

The two radio groups were the only ones to lodge bids for the long-term contract when it was advertised in recent weeks.

A final decision was made at a meeting of local radio bosses in Dublin yesterday, with sources citing pricing as "the most important thing" in the selection of Newstalk.

"Newstalk wanted to charge a flat fee, and UTV wanted us to give up advertising time, like INN," said one chef executive.

"The view was that when you give up advertising time you never really know how much it's costing you."


Newstalk boss Frank Cronin said he was "delighted" with the news but declined to say how much his group would be charging for the service.

Local station bosses said the price was pitched at €25,000 -- "we'll be negotiating on that, it could well come down," one station added. The €25,000 price implies revenues of €425,000 a year for Newstalk.

"It'll be a significant piece of revenue, but it's more about enhancing the profile of the news department," said Mr Cronin. "This is a platform for us to deliver news to 1.6 million people a day."

UTV Radio Ireland boss Ronan McManamy was first out of the traps to offer his news services last autumn, sending a much-criticised email to station bosses less than 24 hours after the collapse of INN was announced. "We felt we had a very good product," Mr McManamy said yesterday, adding that UTV Radio Ireland will continue to "develop" its service so its own stations and Galway Bay could offer "something different".

The local radio bosses also used their day in Dublin to meet Broadcasting Authority chief Michael O'Keeffe to air their concerns about the controversial broadcasting levy, which is set to increase by 25pc.

"The battle against the levy is in full flow," one chief executive said last night.

Irish Independent

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