Chairperson of Communicorp, Lucy Gaffney, has strongly criticised the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) for its sudden and unexpected announcement to seek proposals for new radio services and has called for the BAI to undertake an immediate economic evaluation of the radio sector. Earlier this week, the BAI announced a call for submissions from parties interested in the provision of new commercial analogue radio services on the FM band.
Commenting on the announcement, Lucy Gaffney, Chairperson of Communicorp, said: “The radio sector is in crisis and facing unprecedented pressure on its commercial revenues which has resulted in many media organisations, including Communicorp, making significant cuts to their businesses. The digital share of the advertising market has grown to 40% with Google and Facebook commanding a large portion of the revenue and they are both unregulated. Meanwhile, the radio industry in Ireland is forced to continue operating in an outdated and inappropriate regulatory environment. Any decision to issue new licences will only serve to compound the existing pressures.”
Communicorp has formally written to the Minister for Communications, Denis Naughten, seeking a meeting to outline the urgent reform needed to the regulation and funding of the independent radio industry. “The minister must move to immediately abolish the BAI broadcasting levy. The minister has indicated proposed changes but nothing has happened to date. In addition, the licence fee must be re distributed and made available to the independent radio sector for the provision of public service broadcasting” said Ms Gaffney.
“We believe that a formal and full economic evaluation of the radio sector needs to be urgently undertaken before any new radio licences are awarded. This evaluation should include an assessment on the number of direct and indirect jobs created by the sector and also an analysis of revenues and the impact of non-regulated international players on the sector.”