A spokesman for Tipp Mid-West Radio has accused the BCI of rearranging the licence arrangements for the Tipperary area in order to suit bigger interests.
Speaking in today’s Sunday Business Post, John Hassett claims that the new licence terms “seem to have been carefully crafted to suit Tipp FM and the Irish Press [who are shareholders in the station].”
Both Tipp FM and Tipp Mid-West Radio presently broadcast in the Tipperary area but the BCI have changed the conditions so that only one licence will cover the entire county in the future. During the re-licensing process, Tipp Mid-West Radio opted not to apply for the new county-wide licence because they claim that they would not be able to take on the extra expense.
Although Tipp FM is a local station, the output is heavily-commercialised. Tipp Mid-West Radio have a greater integration with the local community but claim the alternative – applying for a community licence – would kill off the station.
Tipp FM’s Board of Directors have welcomed the BCI decision to award them the licence for the modified Co Tipperary franchise.
“This has been a major goal for the people working in Tipp FM, to broadcast across the entire county to a population of 135,000. In order to achieve this, our application included a number of new initiatives,” said a delighted Paul Byrne, who is CEO. “First we looked forward to the next ten years of broadcasting and the needs of the listeners and secondly the integration of the additional area to our modified franchise area. I believe this is a great day for local radio.”
Paul continues: “Tipperary will now be united, which is something many listeners told us they wanted. I believe that we can continue to achieve great local support for great local radio no matter what part of the county you are from. We won’t let the listeners down and appreciate their support,” he concluded.
The independent radio sector is set to grow substantially in 2005. So says Ethel Power, Tipp FM’s Chief Executive, speaking to today’s Sunday Business Post. Ethel, who took over the position at the Tipperary station in June, predicts that more and more listeners from beyond the Pale will find that the national stations focus only on the major cities, leaving them feeling totally disenfranchised. They will continue to turn to their local stations to tune into rural issues that affect them. Ethel also predicts that more business people will realise that the most effective way to reach large provincial populations is through their local radio station. This will lead to a significant advertising sales growth in the sector, she says.