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Battle for country music radio licence

Sarah McCabe

A RADIO war has broken out in Dublin, with a group of country music fans determined to wrest a coveted broadcasting licence from an existing station.

Sunshine 106.8's licence is currently up for renewal – and proposed new station Country FM wants the rights to it.

The two stations will appear before the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland today to plead their cases. The winner will gain control of the coveted licence, designed for a niche music station, valid for a 10-year period.

Country chairman Martin Wall told the Irish Independent: "Only 33pc of the current licence holders' content caters for country fans, the rest is mainstream programming. We want to provide a 100pc country station."

Country plans to invest €1m into the new station if successful, expecting first-year revenues of around €500,000.

Sunshine boss Sean Ashmore disputes this business plan.

"Our research shows that soul music fans are very under-represented too, so we think a combination of country, soul and a small amount of Irish music is the best way to fill this niche music gap," he said.

A decision on the licence is expected around May.

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