IRTC INDEPENDENT NATIONAL RADIO FRANCHISE HEARINGS 1989

IRTC members (1989): Vivian Murray, Donagh O'Donoghoe, Donal O'Sullivan, Frank Cullen, Justice Seamus Henchy, chairman, Sean Connolly, Kieran Mulvey, Gillian Bowler, Liam Devally and Fred O'Donovan.

Hotly tipped to secure the new national independent radio franchise, Cork showbiz entrepreneur Oliver Barry and Wexford businessman Jim Stafford yesterday gave an impressive 45-minute performance before the 10-member Commission. Barry's Century Communications group gave a foretaste of their approach to independent radio broadcasting with a snappy 16-minute audio presentation to punch home the message. "If awarded this franchise we would provide a radio service which is professional, Irish, national and objective," Stafford told Mr Justice Seamus Henchy, who heads the commission. The commission will now consider the four cases before it, having already been supplied with the respective groups plans before the formal public hearing at Dublin's National Concert Hall. A decision on the winning group is expected within weeks. Only national news media reporters were allowed to attend the presentations in the NCH boardroom, and press photographers were permitted to take pictures only after one of their number protested at an attempted restriction at this "public" meeting. During the day-long hearing of submissions from the groups seeking the franchise to run the country's first independent national radio service, a price tag of between 3 million and 4 million pounds was put on the venture. Staffing required varied from 50 to 70. Radio 2000, considered second favourite in the race, said they could be on air by March 27 and achieve 63 percent national coverage on FM between mid-July and the end of this year. Like Century and National Radio Franchise Consortium (headed by former RTE man Conall O Morain and freelance journalist Kevin D. O'Connor), they would use RTE's existing network to beam their programs from Dublin. In Radio 2000's front line are Comhaltas Ceoiltoiri boss Labhras O Murchu, and ex-Irish rugby team captain Ciaran Fitzgerald. Considered to be the rank outsider is Radio Nova International, now running a satellite radio service from Surrey in England. Nova boss Chris Cary, an original "pirate" associated with offshore Radio Caroline in the 60s, successfully ran the Radio Nova pop station in Dublin until it was forced off the air in a bitter dispute with its own journalists. Flamboyant as ever, Carey dispensed with the power team approach at yesterday's hearing and presented the Nova case accompanied only by his Dublin-born co-promoter Sybil Fennell. Carey said he could start up a national radio service with 1 million and an Irish backing group to back him with a further 2 million.

Century Communications Ltd director Oliver Barry told the inquiry that provided RTE deliver the transmission facilities in time, Century could be on air by May 1. Both he and Wexford businessman Jim Stafford had the necessary funds to start up the station between them and proposed to retain at least 51 percent of the shares in it. Costing, Mr Barry said, had been carefully worked out and while they expected losses for the first two years it was anticipated that profits would accrue in the third year. He told Commission Chairman Mr Justice Henchy that each of them would have a 25.5 percent shareholding and they hoped to have as much flexibility as possible as regards the remaining 49 percent. They promised there would be no sale of the controlling interest in the station without the consent of the commission if the licence was granted. Mr Barry said the programme schedule was not designed to clash with RTE radio. They would be providing a national independent radio service which would be directed at people of all ages and interests. As regards a news service, they were negotiating with each of the four national newspapers for the contracts and envisaged employing 40 to 50 staff in their own newsroom. Their programme plans provided for Irish language learning, news in Irish, music to suit all tastes, together with a main news programme which would begin at noon daily. Mr Barry said they had a chief executive, head of operations, finance and sales, along with a programmes chief and news head all lined up. However, their names had to remain confidential until a licence was secured. They would also have regional offices in Cork and the West of Ireland. Messrs. Barry and Stafford brought an impressive array of 10 consultants to the hearing. They included Muiris MacConghail, who has 25 years experience in broadcasting administration, and Mary Finan who heads up one of the country's top public relations firms. Accompanying them were Eugene Fanning, legal adviser; Eamonn Griffin, financial adviser; Des Byrne, market research consultant; Enda Madden, legal adviser; Ray Hills engineering consultant; Andrew Gemmell-Smith, studio consultant; Freed Ryder, engineering consultant; and Andrew Woodger, who is in charge of a team of engineers engaged in expanding the commercial radio network in Britain.

Radio 2000 RADIO 2000 aimed to innovate, stimulate, entertain and compete. According to Corkman Liam O Murchu, consultant on programming, they wanted to be a catalyst in reflecting and helping along the incandescent sense of optimism spreading throughout Ireland. Both he and Comhaltas Ceoltoiri boss Labhras O Murchu stressed the Irish Cultural nature of their proposed national station. They believed it was possible to promote a bilingual approach and to operate a profitable business. The new national radio must combine the best attributes of our heritage with a modern, forward-looking approach. It must meet the listening needs of the general audience segments, communities and minority interest groups. Chairman Denis O'Brien, former GPA executive now in charge of a satellite TV operation, said Radio 2000 could be on air as early as March 27 and could achieve 63% national FM coverage between mid-July and the end of the year. Almost 3.5 million pounds would be needed to set up the new radio station. The capital expenditure would be met by 1 million pound share capital and leasing of 2.5 million. Profitability in the third year was projected at 600000 pounds. O'Brien's satellite company E-SAT TV holds 40% of the shareholding in the venture; with the other stakes held by Downtown Radio, Belfast (17.5); Irish Farmers Journal (18); Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann 93.5) and chairman O'Brien with a personal 3 Board members include former Garda Commissioner Eamonn Doherty, former Irish rugby captain Ciaran Fitzgerald, Grainne Andrews, widow of broadcaster Eamonn Andrews, former Journal editor Paddy O'Keeffe and National Concert Hall manager Frank Murphy. Radio 2000 has made an irrevocable offer of a 5 percent stake to the main churches, with 6 percent available for staff, the commission was told. It would have its news service supplied by Independent News Ireland, a company to be set up by PR consultant Fintan Drury, late of RTE. Three main news bulletins would be provided on weekdays and would be going "head to head with RTE".

Ireland's top broadcaster, Gay Byrne, was not wanted by one of the four groups which yesterday sought the franchise for Ireland's Independent national radio service, the commission was told. National Radio Franchise Consortium Chairman Conail O Morain said that some of the best people in RTE had given his group verbal commitments to join them if they secure the licence. Broadcaster Kevin D. O'Connor, who is part of the Franchise Consortium, added, at a later stage in the hearing, that they did not want Gay Byrne because they wanted the new station to be different and better. They would have to find talent elsewhere and move away from a different broadcasting ethic. Mr O Morain said their service would not be a tatty one, but rather would ensure that a good mix of programmes was provided. He said they would be getting the bulk of their financial backing from the bigger financial institutions. They believed this would prove wise in the long run as private investors could decide to pull out after a short period and withdraw their funding. It was their intention to provide a 24-hour service seven days a week with news and views during the day and specialised music in the evenings. A news service could be got from the Press Association and the station would have its own specialised staff, such as agricultural, political and other such specialised correspondents. There would also be more Irish programmes than currently available on the existing network. They would be concentrating on the 20 to 45 age group. Surveys had proved that there were one million "channel switchers" in this country and they planned to tap into that market. The consortium also included Joe Buckley, who was described as a distinguished telecommunications expert, and PJ Curtis who was stated by Mr O Morain to be one of the finest record producers in the country. At the end of the hearing, Commission Chairman Mr Justice Henchy remarked that it was not entirely satisfactory that those holding 90% of the investment in the proposed station were not known to the commission.

SLICK, fast presentation was promised by Chris Cary of Radio Nova International if given the OK to run the new national independent radio service. If successful he would relocate his present satellite radio business from its Surrey base to Dublin. Carey, whose successful Dublin based pirate Radio Nova was shut down after a bitter dispute with the National Union of Journalists, told the commission he would offer 25000 to the NUJ "to clear the air". One of the original pirate operators, Englishman Carey began with the offshore Radio Caroline during the 1960s and his Dublin operation set the pace for the plethora of unlicensed stations that followed down the years. Apart from running a British radio service, Carey has acted as consultant to several radio operations here. Co-promoter Sybil Fennell is Dublin born and educated. She worked with the Dublin Nova pirate station before joining the management team. She and Cary would hold 20 percent and expected other Irish Investors would be happy to become involved for the remainder of the equity. Cary guaranteed investors money would have doubled in 3 years. Nova would provide 70 percent national and 30 percent regional programming and advertising and have its news service provided, initially, by British-based Independent Radio News. It would begin with a 5.30 am start beaming to young farmers a diet of information, new ideas and anecdotes. From 6.45 until 10 am there would be opting out to allow for regional variations, while a ten minute news bulletin would be run at lunchtime. Not even Mr. Justice Henchy could keep a straight face when Cary spoke of proposed coverage of the Irish language. They would have a "word a day" educational programme. Later, the commission chairman observed: "I think it would be fair to say that the Irish language would not be your strong point." After 10pm Nova would link up by satellite to European countries. They envisaged a £1 million start-up cost with the other 2 million coming from Bank of Ireland Finance. The operation would be self financing from the start, said Cary, who claimed his former pirate station claimed 45 % of young Dublin listeners. There would be an introductory rate for advertising, and Cary estimated the station would take 25% of the market after 3 months on air. Nova, with a reputation for state-of-the-art broadcasting equipment, would provide its own transmitters and not seek assistance from RTE (unlike the other groups seeking the national franchise). "We visualise we could be on air from April 1," said Cary.


1992 Station details and other IRTC info from that year

IRTC Commission Members appointed late 1993:
Niall Stokes (Chairperson), Gillian Bowler, Jude Bowles, Eileen Brophy, Christopher Cooney, Gerard Danaher, Jack Davis, Aiden Meade, Kieran Mulvey, Mary Ruddy.
Chief Executive: Michael O'Keeffe, Secretary: Celene Craig.

The Commission members are appointed by the Government and hold office for a period of five years. The Commission as of March 1998 was appointed in November 1993 and its Members are:- 


COMMISSION MEMBERS as of March 1998
Niall Stokes : CHAIRPERSON - Editor of Hot Press.
Ann Mooney : Public Relations Consultant. 
Jude Bowles : Freelance Radio Producer and Community Arts Development Worker.
Eileen Brophy : Journalist 
Chairperson of Irish Executive Council of the N.U.J.
Christy Cooney : Manager, FAS Training Centre, Cork. 
Gerard Danaher : Barrister.
Jack Davis : Chairman, and Managing Director, Meath Chronicle Ltd.
Aiden Meade : Managing Director, Aiden Meade Audio Visual Productions Ltd.
Kieran Mulvey : Chief Executive, Labour Relations Commission.
Mary Ruddy : Co-ordinator, Connemara Community Radio, Letterfrack, Co. Galway.

As of March 1998 the Commission (Marine House, Clanwilliam Place, Dublin 2) had a full time staff of eight people and one regular consultant as follows:


IRTC STAFF March 1998
Michael O'Keeffe : Chief Executive
Celene Craig : Secretary
Neil O'Brien : Executive Engineer
Ciarán Kissane : Development Officer
Teresa Lynch : Accounts
Marianne O'Connell : General Administration
Joe Flanagan : News and Current Affairs Monitoring
Sineád Owens : Reception/General Information
Pat Montague : Consultant Press and PR


List of Dublin 1999 Applicants lists all groups
KISS FM Dublin franchise application 1999 to IRTC, Transmission proposals, studio proposals (.pdf)
PULSE FM application (.pdf)
SPIN FM application (.pdf)
LITE FM application (.rtf)
Radio Dublin application (.pdf)
@2K, Gold, Melody tech info. of some of the other Dublin applicants 1999 (text)

Dublin 1999 Special Interest applicants:
Spirit FM (Dublin) IRTC application 1999
Travel FM (Dublin) IRTC application 1999
Solas FM (Christian) Radio IRTC application 1999
Dublin City Radio IRTC application 1999
(.pdf files Adobe viewer needed for these)

Dublin FM licence applicants 2001 :
Zero 106.8 IRTC application
Classic Rock 106.8FM IRTC application
Inspire FM (UCB) IRTC application
(rest unavailable)

Dublin 2001 religious radio station on AM licence applicants:
'People Into God' consortium IRTC application
Radio Maria consortium Only the technical part of their IRTC application
UCB Ireland IRTC application
(rest unavailable)

Cork city and County FM licence applicants 2000/2001 :
Magic FM IRTC application
Beat FM IRTC application
Capital IRTC application
Cork KIX FM IRTC application
(rest unavailable)


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