NEAR FM and FM104 have had their stolen equipment recovered by police after official pirate radio detection experts managed to locate station broadcasts in Rathfarnham, Dublin.
Other equipment relating to recent thefts at East Coast Radio and CKR FM was also discovered.
CKR FM are denying that their future is hanging in the balance. The station’s chief executive has instead insisted that CKR FM is in “great health”. Earlier in the year it emerged that CKR Limited had been struck off the Companies Register after failing to file accounts. This led to Carlow Kildare Radio Limited being dissolved on the 16th of June.
Comment: Talk about bad timing with the station’s licence due for renewal shortly!
John Drummey, a former news reader with Independent Network News, has been appointed as head of news at CKR FM. John is also a former presenter with Radio Kerry. CKR FM is the licensed station serving the Carlow/Kildare franchise area.
The BCI today announced the decisions relating to licences for the Carlow/Kilkenny and County Kildare franchise areas. The licences have been awarded in principle subject to the successful conclusion of contract negotiations.
CK Broadcasting Ltd, who will operate KCLR – the Heart of The Two Counties, have been awarded the licence for the Carlow/Kilkenny franchise.
County Kildare FM Radio Ltd have been awarded the Kildare franchise. Their station will be known as Kfm.
The BCI’s chairman Conor J. Maguire explains: “The contracts were awarded in principle subject to the relevant clarifications/responses pertaining to the applications being addressed to the satisfaction of the Commission. Once the contract negotiations have been completed with the successful applicants further details will be announced.”
The fallout from today’s BCI’s announcement of new licensees for the Carlow/Kilkenny and Kildare franchises is that two long-serving stations will stop broadcasting next year. Radio Kilkenny and CKR FM will become memories once the new licence-holders – KCLR in Carlow/Kilkenny & Kfm in Kildare – take to the air.
Radio Kilkenny’s franchise has been revamped to include the Carlow area, and although the station were shortlisted to be reawarded the new licence, they were ultimately unsuccessful. They will cease broadcasting next October after twelve years on air.
CKR FM served the old franchise of Carlow and Kildare. The BCI now feel that Co Kildare is justified in having a station serving its needs solely, resulting in CKR FM’s demise. CKR FM consistently registered bad JNLRs. They will also cease broadcasting next October.
Kfm, which was today awarded the licence for the Co Kildare franchise by the BCI, includes backing from East Coast Radio & Midland Radio Group Ltd (owners of Shannonside Northern Sound). The station will launch next Autumn and will be based in a purpose-built broadcast centre situated just outside Naas.
Carlow Kilkenny Radio have been informed by the BCI why they failed in their application for a licence to cover the new franchise area covering counties Carlow & Kilkenny.
The Commission considered that their application was weaker ‘in all respects’ than the other two applications received.
At ownership level, the station’s board was not considered to be as representative of both counties as that of the winning applicant.
In considering the relationship between Carlow Kildare Radio Ltd and Carlow Kilkenny Radio Ltd, CKR’s long-term ownership and control difficulties were viewed negatively.
Programming in the application was judged to be more ‘aspirational’ than realistic and the company’s financial proposals were considered by the Commission to be considerably weaker than the successful applicant.
KCLR 96FM, the new radio service for Carlow & Kilkenny, went live on-air for the first time at 11am today. The first presenter to be heard on the broadcast was Alan Swan, who presented a special two-hour introduction to the new station.
KCLR 96FM Chief Executive John Purcell expressed his delight that the station had finally hit the airwaves: “We applied for this new licence two years ago and it has been a long road to reach this point. The setup of the station was very challenging with preparations delayed by the legal challenges to the decision to award the licence to us. However, we are delighted to at last be on-air and are looking forward to a very positive future.”
According to Purcell, KCLR 96FM will be a fresh, local, and contemporary voice that connects with listeners across the two counties.
He said: “We are placing a huge emphasis on local events with news and sport seven days a week to ensure our listeners receive the best possible coverage of all that is happening throughout Kilkenny and Carlow. Current affairs and community interest programming are also a priority as well as quality music and entertainment shows featuring requests, competitions, and fantastic prizes.”
Purcell acknowledged that one of the main challenges for KCLR 96FM is broadcasting to two counties and said that county-specific programming is being delivered where appropriate. “We are very mindful of the fact that we are catering for two counties with diverse needs and interests and KCLR 96FM will be providing dedicated news and sports services for Carlow and Kilkenny,” he promises.
A huge amount of work had gone in to putting the station on-air and Purcell was feeling very positive about how the new service would be received.
“There has been a huge amount of interest in the new station from people throughout Carlow Kilkenny. We are determined that KCLR 96FM will be a station local people can be proud of and I am confident listeners are going to like what they hear,” he concluded.
KCLR 96FM is available in Kilkenny on 96.6MHz FM, 96.0MHz FM and 96.2MHz FM and in Carlow on 96.9MHz FM and 94.6MHz FM.
The BCI have once again expressed their concern at a proposal contained in the government-commissioned Ox Report which recommends the setting up of an appeals body for radio licensing decisions. In a detailed document containing their response to the Report, the Commission say that they consider the idea of an appeals body neither workable nor appropriate. They feel that an appeals system would effectively second-guess their deliberations and, given that there are a number of subjective elements in determining applicants, consistency in decision-making would become difficult. Furthermore, a danger would exist that every licence decision would be referred to the Appeals Board thereby potentially undermining and questioning the necessity for the BCI Board in the first place.
In response to other issues contained in the Ox Report, the BCI also maintain that the current licence application process has not acted as a barrier to entry for lower-level players. Citing their recent decision to refund most of the application fee to unsuccessful bidders, the Commission feels that an auction process would be more likely to lead to exclusion. “Auctions may favour those with the deepest pockets but may not take account of other important considerations such as issues of concentration, programming diversity, etc,” the report says.
On the issue of automatic renewal of licences, the BCI is not in favour of such a concept and questions whether it would be in the interests of plurality and diversity. The Commission feels that automatic renewal would clearly favour the licensee, however a re-advertisement process allows the Board to re-evaluate and build on existing commitments. The BCI feels that this is in the public interest.
The idea of a penalty-points system for licence breaches is one that is supported by the BCI, although they do feel that the present system has been successful. The Commission also stand by their programming content regulation in relation to the likes of news and Irish music output, believing these to have been to the benefit of the sector and to listeners. However they accept that it may be appropriate to review their effectiveness as more services come on stream.