Spin 1038

Storm challenge rejected

The appeal against the award of the youth licence to Spin FM for Dublin City and County was unanimously rejected by the Supreme Court today.
Storm FM were one of three unsuccessful applicants for the licence. They claimed that there had been an “objective bias” against one of its members on the part of IRTC member Dr Colm Kenny.
After the ruling, the IRTC said it would now meet with representatives of Spin FM to begin contract negotiations.

Storm back in court

Storm FM’s court case and appeal against the awarding of Dublin’s youth licence to a rival bidder may cost the consortium about £160,000. A discussion on the awarding of costs will take place in court this Thursday and the IRTC will be seeking costs for both actions. Storm Fm have made no comment on the decision not to overturn the award until they study the judgement in full.

Newspaper: UTV and CML may sue IRTC

Sunday Business Post
UTV and CML may sue IRTC

Sunday Business Post – February 4th 2001

UTV and CML may sue IRTC

Will Goodbody

UTV and County Media Limited (CML) could sue the Independent Radio and Television Commission (IRTC) if the proposed £31.5 million takeover of the Cork-based media group by UTV falls apart, The Sunday Business Post has learnt.

Last week the IRTC said it could not allow the takeover to proceed as it breached the commission’s policy of favouring local ownership. Although UTV and CML are still studying the decision, it is understood that both companies have been advised that if they are forced to call off the deal, they may have grounds to sue the IRTC for damages.

The IRTC suggested that a compromise could be worked out and sent more elaborate details of its decision to CML last Friday. However, an informed source said that if the two companies were not happy with the situation, they would take the matter to the courts in the next few weeks.

“We have indicated a number of quite positive things to them in the letter and we would hope that having reflected on that they would be in a position to reactivate a proposal with us,” said Michael O’Keeffe, chief executive of the IRTC.

Elsewhere, the Storm FM consortium, which lost its Supreme Court appeal against the IRTC decision to award the Dublin city and county youth radio licence to Spin FM, will return to the courts on Thursday to discuss the awarding of costs.

The Supreme Court ruled that IRTC member Dr Colum Kenny had not been biased in his decision regarding the awarding of the youth radio licence to Spin FM.

O’Keeffe said the IRTC would be seeking its costs for both actions which would be about £80,000. If the court finds in favour of the IRTC, the Storm FM consortium, which includes night-club owner John Reynolds, music manager Louis Walsh, designer John Rocha and U2’s The Edge, could face a legal bill in excess of £160,000.

A spokesman for Storm said they were obviously disappointed with the decision but declined to comment further until the consortium had studied the judgement in full.

Fat lady yet to sing in Cork radio decision

Will Goodbody

“Bizarre”, “strange” and “muddled” — just some of the words used by industry watchers to describe last Monday’s decision by the Independent Radio and Television Commission (IRTC) not to approve the proposed £31.5 million takeover by UTV of Cork radio group, County Media Ltd (CML).

The decision seemed even more surprising in the context of an approval from the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Mary Harney, for the takeover on Thursday.

But although some in the broadcasting business found the IRTC’s rejection difficult to fathom, it did not come as a complete surprise. IRTC chairman Conor Maguire had previously stated that the sale could breach IRTC guidelines on ownership.

These guidelines say that existing media operators cannot own more than 27 per cent and a single group cannot own more than 46 per cent of any given station. The making of such a statement in public before the commission had formally considered the deal is thought to have aggravated management at UTV, an informed source said.

However, what did come as a surprise to all concerned was the IRTC’s reasoning for rejecting the application. Rather than rejecting it on the basis that UTV, which already broadcasts into Ireland, would contravene IRTC policy by owning 100 per cent of County Media, the 10-member body took another tack.

In a statement, the IRTC said that while it acknowledged the many positive aspects to the proposed involvement of UTV, its policy was “to favour a strong local representation in the ownership structures of local radio services”.

The statement continued: “This local ownership has, in the Commission’s experience, been important to the local character of the service and has been one of the key factors in ensuring the success of local radio.”

Some interpreted the commission’s reliance on this reasoning as an attempt to establish a second argument against the proposed takeover, in the event that the UTV chooses to challenge the decision in the courts. However, in both cases, the IRTC’s argument seems to be weak and, at times, self-contradictory.

To begin with, UTV and CML had argued to the IRTC that sufficient safeguards existed within the contractual arrangements between the radio stations and the IRTC to protect the local ethos of the service.

In addition, The Sunday Business Post has learned that UTV had given an undertaking to the IRTC that there would continue to be considerable local input into the running of the three stations owned by CML through the CML advisory board. UTV recognised that CML was well run and did not wish to meddle with it, an informed source said.

Secondly, while all three of the applicant stations short-listed for the potentially lucrative new radio licence for Cork city and county have some local investors, a closer look at the overall shareholding structure reveals that in each case a large amount of the interest is far from Leeside (see panel).

Under current proposals, a total of 52 per cent of the shares in Magic FM would be held by existing shareholders in Dublin station Lite FM. Forty per cent of the shares in Redhot FM would be controlled by shareholders and senior executives of Dublin’s FM104.

Beat FM, the third applicant, also has a strong Dublin influence in the form of majority shareholder Radio Ireland’s 40.5 per cent holding. Indeed the IRTC’s decision to even short-list the Beat FM application, given that the Radio Ireland stake breaches the ownership guidelines, in itself caused a few eyebrows to be raised.

When questioned by Maguire at the oral presentations of licence applications in Cork last week about why the consortium had made an application which clearly breached the guidelines, Willie O’Reilly of Beat FM replied: “We are asking the IRTC to look at the guidelines because we have always seen them as that, rather than statutory regulations.”

O’Reilly later told The Sunday Business Post: “We feel the guidelines are punitive for our shareholders considering the amount of expertise and the amount of insight and industry knowledge we bring to the grouping. If our proposition is the best proposition for Cork, then we would like to sit down with them and if they want to talk about shareholding, we’ll talk about it.”

However, should the Beat FM application be successful in its current format, the door could be thrown open to a legal challenge from one of the other unsuccessful applicants. A number of the consortia who failed to even get short-listed for oral hearing are believed to be extremely aggrieved that another application which is contrary to IRTC policy made the cut.

Finally, the IRTC’s announcement in December that it had given approval in principle to British television company, Granada Media, taking a 45 per cent share in TV3, casts further shadows on the reasoning behind the UTV decision.

At the time Maguire said Granada had a “wealth of experience and knowledge to bring to the Irish market”. But presumably UTV contends that it could bring similar expertise to the Irish local radio market.

In last week’s statement, the IRTC indicated that it would be reviewing its ownership policy at its next meeting in April. Given that large print-based media organisations, which in some cases are foreign owned, have been allowed buy out Irish local newspapers, and considering the IRTC’s lack of clear policy on the subject of ownership, most industry sources feel a considerable change in policy is long overdue.

Such a change of policy could enable the UTV bid to be reformatted in consultation with the IRTC, retabled and subsequently accepted. It is unclear whether a commitment to change by the IRTC could convince UTV and County Media not to apply for a judicial review and hold out until April. However, one way or the other, industry analysts are agreed that the deal is certainly not yet dead.

The reality is that although local radio reaches a large audience, the industry itself is a small world and for some time the pool of potential experienced and willing investors has been slowly evaporating away, industry sources said.

The time has come, many feel, to allow large players use their money and expertise to develop the local airwaves. Indeed, by including Radio Ireland as a 40.5 per cent shareholder, Beat FM — like Granada and UTV before it — is “putting it up” to the IRTC to let the bigger more experienced players take worthwhile stakes in the market.

It would certainly be ironic if in the same week as the state appointed body won a protracted court challenge to one of its earlier decisions, it had made another decision which led to a similar fate.

On Friday the Supreme Court turned down an appeal by unsuccessful applicant for the local Dublin city and county youth radio licence, Storm FM, against the decision to grant the licence to Spin FM.

But as one industry source said about the UTV debacle last week: “The fat lady hasn’t sung yet.”

The three contenders for the new Cork city and county radio licence are Magic FM, Redhot FM and Beat FM. All three presented their applications to the IRTC and the public in Cork last Monday. A decision is due by the end of February

Magic FM

25-44 age group. Total share capital pledged — £2 million

Fox Radio Limited

27 per cent (£350,000)

A recently-incorporated investment vehicle with the stated intention of acquiring further interests in Irish radio stations. Its directors include Lite FM executives Scott Williams, Howard Block and Martin Block.

Lite FM

10 per cent (£250,000)

Local easy listening station which went on air on May 25 last year.

Registered directors of the holding company, City Broadcasting Limited, are Scott Williams, Martin Block, Howard Block, Travis Baxter and Deirdre Kelly.

Gerry Murphy — 15 per cent (£297,500) — Entrepreneur, deputy-chairman of Sherry Fitzgerald Group, founder of private venture capital company Strategic Equity Partners, Lite FM shareholder and former director of First Active Building Society.

Radio Kerry

15 per cent (£277,500)

Eleven year old local radio station. The company’s shareholding is made up of a broad coalition of commercial and community interests within the county.

David Hammond — 10 per cent (£225,000) — Freelance consultant and former general manager of Today FM.

Dennis Kelleher — 10 per cent (£250,000) — Cork-born director of the Irish Investment Fund and ceo of New York based brokers Wall Street Access.

Staff Share Scheme — 5 per cent (£125,000)

Others — 8 per cent (£225,000)

RedHot FM

Youth station. Total share capital pledged — £650,000

Thomas Crosbie Holdings — 20 per cent (£130,000) — Operators of The Cork Examiner Group, Thomas Crosbie has an annual turnover of £42 million. It also has interests in County Mayo Radio and North-West Radio. Nominated directors are Alan Crosbie and Anthony Dinan.

Vivian Nathan — 20 per cent (£130,000) — Director of HLB Nathans, one of the top 20 accountancy firms in Ireland.

Henry Condon (aka Henry Owens) — 10 per cent (£65,000). Henry Owens is programme director of British radio station Virgin Radio and was a founder of Atlantic 252.

Jim Aiken — 5 per cent (£32,500) — Well known promoter, having worked with acts such as The Rolling Stones, David Bowie and Bruce Springsteen. Was actively involved in the turnaround of FM 104.

Maurice Cassidy — 5 per cent (£32,500) — Operates 57th Street entertainer/artiste agency and FM 104 shareholder. Also promoted Riverdance.

Pearse Farrell — 5 per cent (£32,500) — Founder of chartered accountants, Farrell, Grant Sparks and director of FM 104.

Dermot Hanrahan — 7 per cent (£45,500) — Dermot Hanrahan is chief executive of FM 104 and a director of Larger Than Life, Independent Broadcasters of Ireland, Fusio Limited and Flycatcher Ltd.

Ulick McEvaddy — 5 per cent (£32,500) — Responsible for the biggest private investment in the Horan International Airport in Knock, Co Mayo. Founder director of aircraft leasing company Omega and director of FM 104.

Deanna Hallett — 3 per cent (£19,500) — Chairman of Hallett Arendt, a British based radio research and marketing specialist company.

Others — 2 per cent each (£13,000) — Tim Fenn, financial director of FM 104; Colm Hayes, programme director of FM 104; Margaret Nelson, sales director of FM 104; Dave Kelly, music director and deputy programme controller of FM 104; Helena Kelly, marketing manager of FM 104.

— Management shares — 10 per cent.

Beat FM

15-34 year olds. Total share capital pledged — £1.5 million

Radio Ireland

(Today FM) — 40.5 per cent (£636,500)

The national commercial radio licence holder, Radio Ireland’s main shareholders are Broadcast Holdings, Scottish Radio Holdings, Dermot Desmond’s IIU, ICC Venture Capital and ICC Bank.

Frank Boland — 20 per cent (£314,000) — Former chairman of Aer Rianta, Boland has served on the board of many companies including Beamish and Crawford and Cork Communications. Currently he is a Commissioner of Irish Lights and honorary chairman of Cork Business News. He is also chairman and managing director of all companies within the Boland Group.

Joe O’Herlihy — 10 per cent (£157,000) — Cork-born sound engineer who has worked with well-known names such as Rory Gallagher, U2 and REM. Also a board member of the City Arts Centre.

Roy Keane — 4 per cent (£62,800) — Cork-born Manchester Utd and Irish international football team captain.

Denis Irwin — 4 per cent (£62,800) — Cork-born Manchester Utd and retired Irish international footballer.

Liberty Asset Management — 10per cent (£157,000) — Irish financial services company whose directors include founder Ian Lawrie, Marie Ainsworth, Kevin O’Shaughnessy and Brian Tyrrell.

Squareball Ltd. — 7 per cent (£109,900) — Irish multimedia company which will operate the Irish franchise for Sports.com, the internet sports site. Directors and shareholders include sports journalist Cathal Dervan, Domhnail Dervan and Fintan McMahon.

Management shares — (4.5 per cent)

Newspaper: Dance station finally to spin hit discs

Irish Independent
Dance station finally to spin hit discs

Irish Independent – February 4th 2002

By Martha Kearns

Dublin’s new dance station, Spin FM, is to finally hit the airwaves in two weeks’ time – more than two years after its licence was granted.

The city’s fourth independent commercial radio station has endured a long battle which saw it dragged through the courts and lose a core team of workers.

But board member John Mara has confirmed to the Irish Independent that the station is all set to spin its discs on Friday week – the day after Valentine’s Day.

The decision to grant Spin FM the youth radio licence was made by the Irish Radio and Television Commission (IRTC) on October 11, 1999.

It had competed against three other applicants to win the licence to operate a Dublin-based dance music radio station.

The decision was challenged by Storm FM, which subsequently appealed Mr Justice O’Caoimh’s High Court judgment to uphold the decision in June 2000.

Finally, the decision by the IRTC, which is now known as the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI), was upheld by the Supreme Court this month last year.

Storm had alleged there had been an objective bias against it on the part of IRTC member and DCU lecturer Dr Colm Kenny.

The allegation that Dr Kenny had prejudged the issue by virtue of his inquiry into drugs in Dublin nightclubs, including the POD, was rejected.

Spin FM is chaired by U2’s former accountant Ossie Kilkenny and the board of directors includes Lucy Gaffney, on behalf of Radio 2000, which also owns 98FM and is chaired by millionaire businessman Denis O’Brien.

Broadcasting on 103FM, the station plans to have a 36pc listenership (341,000) and aims to employ 35 people.

It will run 24 hours a day and is expected to showcase up-coming DJ talent.

Some 20pc of the station’s programme content will be news and current affairs, said Mr Mara.

No Spin launch next week

Spin FM will not be launching on February 15th, the station’s new programming chief Liam Thompson said today. Speaking to Radiowaves News, he confessed that they are still getting ready because he’s only just been appointed to the job. A new date has been agreed with the BCI for the station’s launch but he is not yet prepared to reveal it.
When asked would dance music be the only genre catered for on the station, his reply was that Spin FM will be catering for the 18-34 age group. “This means that dance music will be an important part of our set-up, but not necessarily the only genre played.”
His reaction to Energy 94FM’s announcement yesterday that they will be ceasing broadcasting is twofold. On the one hand he’ll be ‘very sorry’ to see them go because ‘they were a good station’, but obviously, on another level, he would fear the fact that they would offer ‘quality competition’ for Spin FM.
Liam also confirmed that no presenters have been signed up for the new station yet. However, they are now accepting applications via spincvs@hotmail.com “We need to use this address for the moment and we would prefer it if the attachments were not too bulky, just basic details required at present,” he said. “We should have a spin103.fm email address by Monday or Tuesday and a PO Box address by the end of next week. We do have some tapes from the past but they are all very dated.”
Spin FM have been plagued by problems since being awarded the licence to cater for the youth of Dublin back in 1999. When they do eventually launch from their studios based along the quays – close to the Point Theatre – they will be available on 103.8MHz across the city.

Newspaper: Spin FM sees losses of over €2m in 18 months

Irish Independent
Spin FM sees losses of over €2m in 18 months

Irish Independent – February 3rd 2004

Spin FM sees losses of over €2m in 18 months

Dublin radio station Spin 1038 racked up losses of just over €2m in 18 months of business, according to accounts recently filed in the Companies Office.

Dublin radio station Spin 1038 racked up losses of just over €2m in 18 months of business, according to accounts recently filed in the Companies Office.

The station, which began broadcasting in April 2002, had a shareholders deficit of €485,850 at the end of 2002. However, a shareholders loan of €1m put them back into the black to the tune of €529,941.

The company was originally owned equally by four shareholders – Denis O’Brien’s Radio Two Thousand, the Ministry of Sound, accountant Ossie Kilkenny and businessman Michael Sherry. However, Ministry of Sound has since pulled back from the project and its shares have been redistributed among the other shareholders.

According to accounts for the company, registered as Maypril, there was cash in the bank of almost €800,000 at the end of 2002. There were creditors due within one year of €675,855.

The financial statements said that assurances had been made that “adequate finance will continue to be made in line with the company’s forecasts to enable the company to continue operation for the foreseeable future”.

Spin is aimed at a youth audience and will be among the radio stations anxiously awaiting the JNLR radio listenership figures due to be released next Monday.

In a report by Spin management for the BCI last January, the station expressed some disappointment with the ad revenue. However, the station managed to record a listenership of 5pc in interim JNLR figures released last August, which was seen as positive.

Samantha McCaughren

Today’s Newspapers: February 9th 2004

Irish Independent – Station defends its use of ‘Stab City’ tag

Station defends its use of ‘Stab City’ tag

A radio station has landed itself in hot water with the Broadcasting Complaints Commission over its continued reference to Limerick as ‘Stab City’.

An offended listener has reported the Dublin-based station, Spin 1038, after she heard the reference to her native city in a news bulletin on December 23.

Station defends its use of 'Stab City' tag

However, the radio station is not backing down, saying it makes “no apology” for using the term.

In a letter to the commission, programme director Liam Thompson described the ‘Stab City’ term as a “well-known colloquialism”.

“The scripting and news composition is designed to appeal to listeners aged between 15 and 34 and is consistently delivered in a style that is not only relevant to the station’s audience but easy to understand by using everyday conversational language.

“Stab City is a well-known colloquialism not only in Ireland but abroad and has become a regularly used phrase in modern culture.”

He also refers to a comment by State Pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy in which he claims she quoted that Limerick was responsible for 40pc of all stabbings.

“SPIN 1038 rejects any assertion that the piece in question involves any form of biased reporting and is not designed to offend any natives of Limerick.”

Last night, Limerick Mayor Dick Sadlier said he finds the use of the term by the radio station “totally outrageous and unacceptable”.

He added: “As Mayor of Limerick, I am deeply offended, as I know all people of Limerick would be. It is demeaning, derogatory and is dragging the city into the gutter and it does not deserve it.

“This is a term that is not used by responsible journalists or right-thinking people. If this term was casually used in a discussion about Limerick, then it would be another matter. But to find it is used in such a considered way makes it deeply offensive.

“What is worse, however, is that the radio station seeks to defend it. It adds most serious injury to the offence when they do this.”

The commission is expected to make its decision in a matter of weeks.

Meanwhile, Limerick’s most senior politician has conceded that the city’s criminal fraternity has some of the most “violent, ruthless and brutal” thugs in all the world.

But Justice Minister of State Willie O’Dea said that while this is so, the perception of Limerick in the national media is “unfair and unfortunate”.

“The perception of Limerick given off to people outside the city is unfortunately often taken from the actions of a mindless minority,” he said.

“The perception is that people living here are looking over their shoulders all the time when the reality is the opposite. There is a fantastic community spirit here.”

Eugene Hogan

Irish Independent – FM104 must sell 106 stake

FM104 must sell 106 stake

Scottish Radio Holdings (SRH) has been given the go-ahead by the Competition Authority to acquire FM104 for €26m if a number of conditions are met, including the sale of the Dublin station’s stake in Newstalk.

The decision follows a detailed probe into the implications of how the takeover would impact on competition in radio advertising. In a statement yesterday SRH, which already owns national radio station Today FM, said all the conditions were acceptable.

Enterprise Minister Mary Harney now has 30 days to review the deal.

Samantha McCaughren

Handbags at Spin

Spin 1038 are adding a new dance programme to their schedule and, with a Valentine’s Day launch for the show, the station are convinced that Dubliners will love it.
Joining the Dublin youth station is Clare B, who will be introducing her ‘Big Handbag’ to listeners at 5:45pm every Saturday. Clare, previously of FM104 and various pirate stations, replaces ‘Thirst’ with Robbie Butler – which has finished due to the conclusion of Heineken’s two year sponsorship deal.
‘The Big Handbag’ will be a live show featuring a lively dance mix including handbag (obviously) and floor fillers and there’ll also be live calls. The show’s aim will be to get Dubliners into that Saturday night party mood.
Speaking from the station’s downtown, loft-style studios, Spin’s Programme Director Liam Thompson said: “We’re delighted to have Clare B on board. She’s bright, lively, and enthusiastic, and we see great things ahead for with Spin 1038.”

Radio life’s a bitch, and then you get told off!

Red FM have had their knuckles rapped twice: first after their talk-show presenter Vic Barry called the girlfriend of a listener a ‘bitch’ because she didn’t change her underwear. The show was broadcast last July, and led one listener to make a complaint to the BCC, who ruled that the item was ‘in bad taste’ and ‘offensive’. A similar ruling was concluded about another item on the station’s Red Rooster Breakfast Show in which three presenters discussed penis lengths at…err…length.
Another complaint which was upheld concerned a misleading motor insurance ad on RTÉ Radio 1.
A ruling is due to be made next month concerning Spin 1038’s use of the term ‘Stab City’ to describe Limerick in one of its news bulletins. The description of Limerick has been condemned by the city’s mayor who called the item ‘outrageous and totally unacceptable…deeply offensive’.

Dublin’s Zoo opens later from Monday

Spin 1038’s Zoo Crew will start an hour later each evening from Monday. Speaking to Radiowaves News Spin chief Liam Thompson explained: “We decided, after much discussion, that the show works better as a two hour rollercoaster of madness – and getting the Zoo to do 10 Spin Hits in a Row is probably a waste of their comic potential.”
This means that Steve K will be on for an extra hour each evening on the Dublin youth station. The madness that is the Zoo Crew will now start at 6.45pm…”they’re just too rude for 5.45pm!!!” Liam concluded.