Wednesday 20 November 2019

Revenue seeks Classic Hits 4FM's wind-up over tax bill

REVENUE has moved against the company behind radio station Classic Hits 4FM
REVENUE has moved against the company behind radio station Classic Hits 4FM
Gavin McLoughlin

Gavin McLoughlin

Revenue has moved against the company behind radio station Classic Hits 4FM, asking the High Court to have the business wound up over unpaid taxes.

The station's presenters include comedian PJ Gallagher and former RTE broadcaster Gareth O'Callaghan.

The case is scheduled to be heard on January 26, but the station's chief executive Sean Ashmore told the Irish Independent that he expects the matter to be resolved before then.

He said the station, which broadcasts to Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Clare, Galway and parts of Kildare, Meath and Wicklow, owes the tax collectors around €150,000.

"There's an investment of €1.5m that's about to be completed by (major shareholder)Bay Broadcasting into the station as a lump sum and the amount owing to Revenue is a small percentage of that," Mr Ashmore said.

"It's not even a month's turnover for the radio station," he added.

A Revenue spokesperson said it does not comment on individual cases.

Choice Broadcasting - the company behind Classic Hits 4FM - owed Revenue €163,000 in unpaid taxes at the end of 2012, its most recently filed accounts show.

The accounts show that Choice owed a total of €7.4m in outstanding loans at that time, up from €5.8m at the end of 2011.

The company's directors include Kevin Branigan, the chief executive of Radio Nova and a director of the company behind Sunshine radio. Nova and Sunshine are mainly Dublin-focused.

Mr Ashmore is also a director of the company behind Sunshine. He said Revenue's pursuit of Classic Hits 4FM had nothing to do with the other stations.

"Because of how licences are given out by the BAI, they're all separate individual companies," Mr Ashmore said.

"We want to be very clear that while we have some common directors, Sunshine and Choice Broadcasting are completely separate."

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI), the body that regulates broadcasters, said it was not aware that Revenue was pursuing Classic Hits 4FM until contacted by the Irish Independent.

It said it would make contact with the station but would not comment on what would happen to Classic Hits 4FM's broadcasting licence if the station were to be wound up.

The company behind 'The Irish Times' newspaper previously had shares in Choice Broadcasting but sold them at the end of 2011.

Classic Hits 4FM has 241,000 weekly listeners, according to the latest Joint National Listenership Research (JNLR)/Ipsos MRBI figures. It is currently running a billboard campaign featuring Mr Gallagher and his co-presenter Damian Farrelly.

Irish Independent

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