Communicorp Group Limited supports the Independent Broadcasters of Ireland

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Communicorp Group Limited supports the Independent Broadcasters of Ireland in their demand for restructuring of the funding for RTÉ but says reforms must go further

Wednesday, 14th September 2011 – Dublin, Ireland: In response to the IBI’s statement of 13 September 2011, Communicorp Group Limited has welcomed the positions outlined and supports the need for reform in regulation of the Irish radio broadcast industry.

Communicorp calls on the BAI to bring forward more specific proposals on digital radio, for the restructuring of RTÉ funding, and the abolition of the BAI levy. Communicorp is also calling for the removal of license renewal fees, and is recommending other measures to restore the viability of the sector. Communicorp also supports the current rules on Ownership and Control as robust. They should only be reviewed when the BAI’s plan for licensing and, in particular, digital radio become clear. Communicorp also welcomes the potential to relax News and Current Affairs requirements but suggests that this be done openly and on an equal basis among all stations.

Communicorp Group Ltd., Chairman, Lucy Gaffney added, “The current commercial environment requires radical new thinking on behalf of the regulator and Government. We need to support indigenous Irish industry. The template for the previous success of the radio sector will not work for the future.  Facilitating digital radio, creating a level playing field among all operators and licensing continuity should be the BAI’s top priorities”

Communicorp Position:

·       In relation to RTÉ funding, a proportion of the current Television License Fee should be dedicated to the independent broadcast sector. A lower cap should be placed on all advertising minutes across RTÉ Radio stations (RTÉ Radio 1, 2FM, Lyric FM and Radio Na Gaeltachta) to ensure renewed competitiveness in the Industry.

·       In relation to the BAI levy, Communicorp recommends that the levy be abolished or failing that be funded through the Television License Fee to ensure commercial viability of the sector.

·       In relation to Ownership and Control, Communicorp recommends that the current position remains as is, whereby one entity can own up to 25% of the licenses.  We believe that the current legislation does not need to be changed in the current commercial environment which requires the industry to consolidate for diversity and viability.

·       In relation to License Renewal, Communicorp opposes the imposition of any financial charges at this stage, as stability and continuity are critical to ensure quality of programming.  Furthermore, an automatic extension of licenses is not uncommon in other European countries.

·       In relation to News and Current Affairs, Communicorp believes that the BAI should go further with its proposed derogation and include all stations. Communicorp believes there is diversity amongst the current large operators and that those included should be broader than just niche stations.

·       In relation to Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB), Communicorp believes the BAI and the Department of Communications must develop a position in relation to DAB after consultation with stakeholders before concluding this consultation paper.

ENDS

For further information, please contact:

Neal Cummins, Fleishman-Hillard, 01-6188482 / 087 629 1091

Communicorp Group Ltd was founded by Irish entrepreneur Denis O’Brien. The Group’s radio operations launched in Ireland and followed with stations in the Czech Republic in 1992. The Group now operates in Ireland, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Hungary and Jordan.