Broadcasting Commission’s ‘outrage against people of Tipperary’
By Gerry Slevin
Thurles-based John J. Hassett, chairman of the Irish Bardic Federation and prominent in many walks of Tipperary life, including the Friends of Tipperary Football of which he was a founder member, has this week hit out strongly at what he terms an outrage against the people of Tipperary, about to be perpetuated by the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland, (BCI).
He claims the Commission is taking away their commercial license for local radio and sharing it out between Irish Press plc in Dublin (owners of Tipp FM) and a Waterford-based regional pop station.
Mr. Hassett, who is a voluntary presenter with the co-op owned Tipp Mid West Radio told “The Guardian” this week that Tipp Mid West radio, based in Cashel and Tipperary town is facing victimization because it is a co-op that consistently out-performs the local radio stations owned by major business interests.
Mr. Hassett said that about a year ago a BCI strategy was aimed at confining Tipperary to one commercial license, Tipp FM. But what was even more remarkable still was the decision to give a license to a regional pop station based in Waterford, and allow it to beam into part of south Tipperary. The idea was to exclude Tipp Mid West, give the entire county for broadcasting purposes to Tipp FM, while at the same time allowing this Waterford station to beam pop music into south Tipperary.
In order to accommodate big business interests including Independent Holdings and the Irish Press plc-owned Tipp FM in Clonmel as well as the Waterford pop station, the BCI had put in place a brazen plan openly targeting the commercial license of Tipp Mid West radio, having open access to the co-op- owned stations capacity to compete against major media giants.
Mr. Hassett complimented Oireachtas members from the county, including Defence Minister Michael Smith, for their united support in opposition to the plan of the BCI to rid the county of its only locally owned radio station. When it was considered that Tipp Mid West Radio in the latest Joint National Listenership Research committee (JNLR) survey was in the top five local radio stations in the country, this intended action by the BCI raised serious questions that would be asked in Europe as well as in Dail Eireann.
He said Tipp Mid West Radio had provided its facilities to promote, represent and cultivate every responsible movements beneficial cause and provided a quality broadcasting service by the people for the people. The insult of being sidelined, the outrage of being deprived of the economic benefits of commercial local radio and the removal of the people’s co-op owned station, was an attack upon the right to own, develop and expand their radio to benefit the Premier County.
OUTSIDE THE COUNTY
What was now happening, he maintained, is, that total control of local radio within Tipperary, will now be owned by people outside the county.
BCI, said Mr. Hassett, had made itself an exploitive instrument of big business in the public perception. Hopefully, it would refrain from its intended agenda for county Tipperary and avoid a needless serious confrontation while it extricated itself from previous errors of judgement.
Tipp Mid West radio, he said, had a commercial license at present but it was co-op owned. Anybody could be a shareholder. There was fairly big membership of shareholding in it and the radio was robustly viable as well.