BCI Award Carlow, Kilkenny & Kildare Licences

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 End is Near

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.

KCLR Express Delight at Today’s BCI Decision

The Board and Shareholders of CK Broadcasting Limited (including Irish Radio & Media Holdings, People Newspapers Ltd, and Setanta Media Holdings) are delighted with the decision of the BCI to accept their application for a licence to operate a radio station for the new Carlow/Kilkenny franchise. The new station, which will commence broadcasting in October 2003, will be known as KCLR – the Heart of The Two Counties and will be a broad-based local service with special emphasis on covering news, current affairs, sport, special interest and community access programming from the two counties.
In a statement issued this afternoon to Radiowaves News, the company say they would like to take this opportunity to thank the members of the public and the many voluntary, community, statutory and commercial organisations in both Carlow and Kilkenny who have assisted in the development of the project to this stage.
“CK Broadcasting looks forward to continuing to work with these people and to developing further close links with individuals and organisations in Carlow and Kilkenny in the years ahead. Work has already commenced on the establishment of the station’s Community Forum – a consultative structure in which community, voluntary and sporting organisations in Carlow and Kilkenny will be invited to participate and which will be given Board representation in the new company,” the statement continues.
Speaking to Radiowaves News today, the station’s chairman John Purcell said: “We would also like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the other two consortia – namely KCR FM and CKR FM – who were competing for the new licence. We look forward to working with them both in the transition to the new service and to exploring opportunities with the many fine broadcasters and staff in each station.” John is a former Radio Kilkenny general manager.
Realising the responsibilities that goes with the licence, John continues: “We are deeply grateful to have been given this opportunity by the BCI and we would like to assure the Commission and the people of Kilkenny and Carlow of our total and unswerving commitment to providing quality local radio and to creating a service which will be a cornerstone of community life in the years ahead.”
The company hope to offer a true local service. John Purcell was born and reared in the area and he has been deeply involved in the radio industry since the early 1990s. For him, today is an immensely proud day. “It has been my privilege to lead a consortium of people who have a tremendous track record of success in broadcasting and other industries and who are now 100% committed to the success of this new project,” he said. “Today marks the beginning of a new and exciting chapter in local broadcasting in Carlow and Kilkenny”.

BCI to Face Dáil Committee

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.

BCI’s Verdict is Bias

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.

Extensions Given

The BCI have given both CKR FM & Radio Kilkenny two month extensions to their contracts. Both stations lost their licences during the recent BCI relicensing process with CKR due to close next Monday, and Radio Kilkenny scheduled to cease on September 30th. This means that CKR, who broadcast to Carlow and Kildare, will now cease broadcasting on November 15th, and Radio Kilkenny will now cease on November 30th.

In considering the request for extensions, the BCI were mindful of the fact that there would be no broad-based dedicated local radio services for the Carlow, Kildare or Kilkenny areas following the expiry of the contracts of CKR FM and Radio Kilkenny. This is notwithstanding the fact that there are other licensed stations available in these areas. The Board also took into consideration the fact that, while the BCI is currently negotiating contracts with both the stations’ replacements – KFM (Co Kildare) and KCLR (Carlow/Kilkenny) – these have not been concluded to date.

The BCI’s Chief Executive Michael O’Keeffe said: “The Commission’s primary concern in offering contract extensions to both stations is to ensure that listeners in Kildare, Carlow and Kilkenny will continue to receive a dedicated local radio service.”

He went on to stress that the contract extensions offered to CKR FM and Radio Kilkenny were contingent upon receipt of confirmation from both stations of their acceptance of a range of conditions. “In our correspondence with both stations, we have outlined the conditions required for the continued operation of the licences”, O’Keeffe said. “In the event that these conditions are not adhered to the Commission will not proceed with the extension of contracts and the licences of CKR and Radio Kilkenny will therefore expire on September 15th and September 30th respectively.”

The conditions are that any on-air arguments or discussions about new franchises must be presented in a fair and balanced way. It is understood that the BCI have expressed dissatisfaction with the way Radio Kilkenny have carried debates in the past.

Radio Kilkenny Take Extension

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.

KCLR finally make it to air

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.