Sligo Stations

Newspaper: Radio licence case adjourned for three weeks

Sligo Weekender
Radio licence case adjourned for three weeks

Sligo Weekender – February 3rd 2004

Radio licence case adjourned for three weeks

The full story of North West Radio’s grounds for appealing the BCI decision not to renew their radio licence will not be heard until the end of this month.
Tuesday, February 24 has been set as the date for NWR’s judicial review to reconvene after it became apparent that the case would last longer than the two days allocated for it in Kings Inn, Dublin.

The full story of North West Radio’s grounds for appealing the BCI decision not to renew their radio licence will not be heard until the end of this month.
Tuesday, February 24 has been set as the date for NWR’s judicial review to reconvene after it became apparent that the case would last longer than the two days allocated for it in Kings Inn, Dublin.
Presiding Judge Purch heard the outline of the difficulties NWR have with the decision of the BCI to award the Sligo, North Leitrim, South Donegal licence to Ocean FM instead of themselves.
On Thursday Senior Counsel for NWR, James O’Reilly delivered the station’s case, questioning the transparency of the BCI’s decision and decision making process.
The chief focus of the case for North West Radio is the slow reaction of the BCI to their request for the minutes of a meeting held on April 29, 2003 at which the Commission agreed to award the licence to Ocean.
According to Mr O’Reilly the minutes and the feedback eventually supplied to NWR by the BCI outlining their reason not to renew the licence did not comply with the BCI’s own guidelines for assessing a licence.
He claimed the original minutes could not be produced in court because the transcript had been shredded by the secretary of the BCI.
Mr O’Reilly also highlighted the four week wait NWR endured before the BCI gave, in a written form, the feedback and the minutes from the meeting of April 29 last.
He referred to the feedback, which was described by the CEO of the BCI Michael O’Keeffe in a letter to NWR as a complete document, for the reasons for rejection.
Mr O’Reilly claimed it was a bland document and the reasons for rejection were not even numbered by the BCI in it.
The Broadcasting Commission are denying that they did not fulfil their own criteria in discussing the renewal or non renewal of the radio licence to NWR.
A spokesperson for the commission said each member discussed each item under its own headings and it was, they said, a collegiate discussion.
Mr O’Reilly said the only evidence that the commission had followed their own proceedings was the copy of the feedback and the minutes of the meeting, which he argued did not reflect that level of discussion.
The case will resume on Tuesday, February 24.

Newspaper: Radio station takes legal action

Mayo News
Radio station takes legal action

Mayo News – February 4th 2004

Radio station takes legal action

A legal challenge has been brought by North West Radio (NWR) against the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland’s (BCI) decision to award the licence for its former broadcasting area to North West Broadcasting Ltd. (NWBL), trading as Ocean FM.

A legal challenge has been brought by North West Radio (NWR) against the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland’s (BCI) decision to award the licence for its former broadcasting area to North West Broadcasting Ltd. (NWBL), trading as Ocean FM.

NWR, of Market Yard, Sligo, had broadcast in the Sligo, south Donegal and north Leitrim area for the past 13 years. It claims the BCI failed to adopt fair procedures when granting the renewal of the licence to Ocean FM. The commission denies the claims.

In the High Court on Thursday last, Mr. James O’Reilly, S.C. for NWR, said it was the most successful radio station in the country when the decision was made to award the contract to NWBL on April 29th, 2003. NWBL had next to no experience, and was established solely for the purpose of unseating his client.

He said the commission was appointed by the Government for a five-year period, and could be drawn from trade unionists, politicians or those who found favour with the Minister in government.

Those appointed made important decisions, and were not subject to appeal. Those who wished to appeal were left with no alternative but a judicial review.

In an affidavit, Mr. Paul Claffey, managing director of NWR, said their broadcast policy had succeeded against the odds, and now found it had been put out of business by a consortium created for that sole purpose.

NWR shared some of its programmes with Mid West Radio, who had successfully re-applied for a renewal of franchise last year, but, for reasons unknown, the question of shared programming and management appeared to have played a major part in the commission’s decision to refuse a renewal of NWR’s licence.

The commission denies its decision was in breach of the Radio and Television Act, 1988, and says it gave full consideration to the applicant’s performance.

The commission rejects arguments that its decision-making process was not transparent, and denies any breach of fair procedures. It says reasons for its decision were provided in a feedback report furnished to the applicant. This had afforded NWR the opportunity to discuss why it was unsuccessful. However, NWR had refused to or did not take up the offer.