Communicorp says new licences bad for Irish radio

Communicorp has criticised the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland’s decision to invite applications for new radio licences across the country.

The group – which owns stations including 98FM, Today FM, Newstalk and spin – put out a statement from Chairwoman Lucy Gaffney saying there should be a full economic evaluation of the radio sector before any new licences are awarded.

The Irish Times is reporting that Communicorp wants government intervention on the issue. The paper says the group is already seeking a meeting with Minister for Communications, Denis Naughten, to discuss an overhaul of the funding for radio.

The statement issued by Lucy Gaffney says: “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 40 per cent 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 Meanwhile, the radio industry in Ireland is forced to continue operating in an outdated and inappropriate regulatory environment.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.

“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.”

The BAI announced earlier this week that it was opening applications for new services across the country, with submissions needing to be in by 12noon on 3rd August. Dublin’s Radio Nova welcomed the news, as it seeks to expand FM coverage beyond the capital.

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