Friday 15 December 2017

Radio group boss criticises move to open up market

Lucy Gaffney Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins
Lucy Gaffney Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

The chairperson of the country's biggest independent radio group has strongly criticised the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) for unexpectedly throwing the market open to potential new entrants this week.

On Tuesday the BAI, which licenses broadcasters, in effect invited offers from stations and promoters interested in setting up in the Irish national or local markets.

Chairperson of Communicorp Lucy Gaffney, whose stations include Today fm, Newstalk, Spin and 98fm, last night sharply criticised the timing.

"The radio sector is in crisis and facing unprecedented pressure on its commercial revenues which has resulted in many media organisations, including Communicorp, making significant cuts to their businesses. The digital share of the advertising market has grown to 40pc with Google and Facebook commanding a large portion of the revenue and they are both unregulated. Meanwhile, the radio industry in Ireland is forced to continue operating in an outdated and inappropriate regulatory environment. Any decision to issue new licences will only serve to compound the existing pressures."

She called for the BAI to undertake an immediate economic evaluation of the radio sector, and said she had formally written to Communications Minister Denis Naughten, seeking a meeting, including to discuss regulation and funding of the independent radio sector.

"We believe that a formal and full economic evaluation of the radio sector needs to be urgently undertaken before any new radio licences are awarded. This evaluation should include an assessment on the number of direct and indirect jobs created by the sector and also an analysis of revenues and the impact of non-regulated international players on the sector," she said.

Irish Independent

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