Contenders tune up for radio licence

FIVE groups are in the running to secure a licence to run a commercial radio station covering the midlands and the north-east.

The licence looks set to be hotly contested, with several well-known names from the media and leisure industry fronting bids.

Former Irish soccer international and current Sunderland chairman Niall Quinn is backing one consortium. His FM107 group is also backed by Midlands 103 station and Celtic Media, the Scottish publishing company which owns the Meath Chronicle and the Anglo Celt newspapers.

Denis O’Brien’s Spin has also submitted an application. Spin, a highly successful dance music station in Dublin, recently won the contest for the commercial licence in the south-west.

TV3 is making its first foray into the radio world. It is backing a station called ICE FM.

Red FM has also applied for the licence. The Cork station’s bid is being fronted by former FM104 head Dermot Hanrahan. Red FM’s largest shareholder is Thomas Crosbie Holdings, the parent company of the Irish Examiner.

Dan Healy, the former boss of Newstalk and Dublin commercial stations is fronting the last applicant, i107.

The licence, which is expected to be awarded by the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) early next year, is to operate a commercial station targeting the under-35s in the midlands and north-east.

The full details of each of the applications will be revealed in Dublin in December.

The BCI said it will whittle the five applications to a shortlist in January before making a final decision.

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