The BCI have been called before the Dáil Committee on Communications, Marine and Natural Resources where they will be asked to explain the process by which they took away Radio Kilkenny’s licence, and gave it to a newcomer. Noel Flynn, the chairman of the committee, has said that the issue is of great concern and that a legislature change may be needed to prevent other small local stations from also being disenfranchised.
Radio Kilkenny is a community-run radio station with a vast listenership in their present franchise area. However, earlier this year, the BCI announced that the boundaries of their franchise were to be realigned to include Carlow as well as Kilkenny, and applications for the franchise were invited. The station’s staff and shareholders were shocked recently when it was announced that the licence for the new franchise would be granted to KCLR – The Heart of the Two Counties, whose largest shareholder is a former CEO for Radio Kilkenny.
The Kilkenny Community Communications Co-op Society, who have operated Radio Kilkenny for twelve years, have been informed by the BCI that they were not awarded the licence for their restructured franchise (which now includes Carlow) because the board and programming of the station is heavily biased towards Kilkenny. 14 of the 15 board members listed in the station’s application are from Kilkenny, the other member is from Waterford.
The application did state that the station would develop to include members from Carlow, but – in an explanatory note – the BCI wondered “why the station’s plans had not been more adequately progressed prior to the making of the application…”
Radio Kilkenny are holding a board meeting this evening to discuss these developments, and any possible action that may be taken.
Radio Kilkenny, due to close next week, have at the last minute accepted the BCI’s offer of a two month extension. They will now close on the 30th November. At its meeting on the 8th September, the Commission approved an application from Radio Kilkenny to extend their contract. A conditional offer was made by the BCI to the station, the terms of which have finally been accepted by the directors of Radio Kilkenny.
The BCI’s Chief Executive, Michael O’Keeffe, said: “I am pleased that the terms and conditions of the extension were accepted. The primary aim of the Commission in granting this extension was to ensure the continued provision of a broad-based dedicated local radio service for listeners in the Kilkenny area.”
Radio Kilkenny is appealing the BCI decision not to award the station the licence for the newly created Carlow/Kilkenny franchise area at the Supreme Court and it is in relation to the station’s coverage of this that special conditions were introduced.