Radio Kerry in takeover bid for advert agency IRS
THE Radio Kerry Group is mounting a bid to take over Independent Radio Sales (IRS), the agency that sells ad packages for 18 local and regional radio stations.
The Irish Independent understands that an outline of Radio Kerry's bid was laid before several of IRS's radio-station shareholders last week and will be put before the non-shareholder members today.
Sources described initial details as "vague" and Radio Kerry's executives are also expected to do a "road show" over the coming weeks to flesh out the plans.
IRS boss Dan Healy, who's also a major shareholder in i-radio regional stations, did not return repeated calls for comment yesterday. Radio Kerry Group boss Paul Byrne also declined to comment.
News of the takeover comes after a period of significant unrest at IRS, as the agency grappled to find a sales mechanism that suited both established local radio stations and fledgling regional start-ups.
The regionals, including Mr Healy's i102-104 and i105-107 and Spin South West, have been enjoying growing IRS revenues over the first half of the year. All local stations with the exception of Cork's Red FM are understood to have attracted less IRS revenue in the first half of 2010 than in the same period last year.
Some local stations are understood to feel they are being under-rewarded for their high listenership numbers, triggering heated discussions at several recent IRS board meetings.
Radio Kerry's bid is understood to address this unrest.
Radio Kerry is already an IRS shareholder and has been in acquisitive mode in recent years, snapping up Shannonside and Northern Sound in 2005.
The Kerry-based group also made a €7.2m bid for Clare FM in 2007, but abandoned it in early 2008 after failing to reach agreement with Clare FM's board.
IRS has been run by Mr Healy since late 2009, when the agency parted ways with its long-running chief executive John O'Connor after a remuneration row that went all the way to the Four Courts.
Mr O'Connor had also been a senior figure in IRS' news arm, Independent Network News, which went out of business in the autumn of 2009.