Business Irish

Saturday 17 March 2018

Samantha McCaughren: Dublin 4 drama over RTE plans for Fair City set

The Carrigstown set of RTE soap Fair City
The Carrigstown set of RTE soap Fair City
Samantha McCaughren

Samantha McCaughren

Plans by RTE to move the Fair City set to another location at Montrose in order to clear its site for the recently agreed sale are turning into a bit of a soap opera itself.

RTE had considered moving the set off-site altogether but now plans to relocate Carrigstown to the Nutley Road area.

It would be housed in an area currently used for car parking and bins, so the broadcaster rightly feels it can make more used of its valuable D4 space.

However, several of the well-heeled residents of Nutley Road have strongly objected to the latest twist in the RTE's site re-organisation drama.

Among them is retired businessman Peter Ledbetter and his wife Paula. He was one of the first bright young executives spotted by Tony Ryan when he was establishing the phenomenally successful GPA Group. Ledbetter worked for the company as an executive director.

According to Ledbetter's architect, the set would be too close to its neighbours, the noise would be too much and there is a possibility of filming as late as 10pm.

He also points out that the set is being moved to facilitate the RTE €100m land sale.

He said: "It is unacceptable to our client that the intensification of use and the associated impacts are created with a commercial decision." The row is now with an Bord Pleanala...and so the saga continues.

Syndicates back in business as horsey set feels flush

Just after the Galway Races has come to a close, a reception to launch this year’s Longines Irish Champions Weekend takes place on Wednesday.

Now in its fourth year, the flat racing weekend marks the first leg of the European Triple crown of championship race meetings.  Among those who will attend is the weekend’s fashion partner, Louise Kennedy.

 It has been a good year for racing. With prize money increasing by 8.4pc, while  demand for bloodstock sales at public auction continues its upward trend.

 Horse Racing Ireland’s chief executive Brian Kavanagh, who has been in the news himself of late, told me the business is rebounding with the re-emergence of syndicates. In the boom years, groups of up to 20 people got together to buy and race horses before it all collapsed. But syndicates were up 14pc in the first half of 2017. “We a good barometer of how people are feeling,” he said. Clearly some are feeling lucky.

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The S&P note on the European housing market gave little room for cheer for house buyers last week.

It judged that Ireland would record the highest house price growth in Europe, ahead of Germany and The Netherlands.

While is believes there are headwinds in the face of Brexit, it also thinks that the relocation of banks and others to our shores will keep the market buoyant.

Watchers of the housing market will have noticed that while S&P estimates the growth rate for the year will be 8.5pc, this is lower than the 11.9pc increase for the year to May as reported by the Central Statistics Office.

It is understood that while S&P incorporated the 11.9pc increase, its forecast quotes year-on-year increases in quarter four of each year, rather than the annual average.

But it also believes the current rate is not sustainable throughout the rest of 2017, so a slower rate of house price growth in the second half of the year is predicted. Perhaps a little bit of hope for prospective buyers?

Brace yourselves for more green taxes in years ahead

The Tax Strategy Group’s latest report attracted a lot of column inches this week after floating the possibility of charging capital gains tax on selling the family home.

But there are a few other nuggets in there which piqued Ergo’s interest — relating particularly to green taxes which are likely to eat into people’s wages to a greater extent.

Though the group’s paper is only a list of options, it provides a glimpse of how our future might look. One proposal is that businesses would have their electricity tax hiked to match the tax paid by non-businesses. Currently business pays 50c per megawatt hour while non-business pays €1.

Another proposal is closing the gap between petrol and diesel, which the group has mooted. It has led to a big uptake in diesel cars, but now there are concerns about diesel emissions.

In Britain the official economic forecaster said this week that green taxes are set to treble in the next five years. A hike like that could leave water charges in the ha’penny place.

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Simon Maher of 8Radio, a founder of Phantom FM, last week submitted his views to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) as to why there should be new radio licences issued. The notion has already been shot down by Communicorp (which is owned by Denis O’Brien, a shareholder in INM, owner of this newspaper), with the Today FM owner claiming that times are too tough for the BAI to even consider new competition.

Maher proposes a multi-city station, targeting over 25s although cautions that “with the nature of radio changing rapidly for younger audiences, it is difficult to provide definitive estimates of audience reach into the future”. But he aims to “win back some lost listeners to terrestrial radio within the target audience”. He believes that a daily reach of approximately 2pc could be achieved in year one raising to 4pc by year three. He is projecting revenues of €520,000 after three years and a very low cost base. It remains to be seen if the BAI believes the sector can afford to share half a million euro of its revenues with Maher.

Sunday Indo Business

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