Bidders for over-45s radio licence differ on revenue

THE two bidders for the multi-city over-45s radio licence have differed over the potential revenue the new station could generate.

At an oral hearing before the licence is awarded in January by the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland, it was stated that the two bidders — 4FM and More FM — expect to generate different revenues over the life of the contract.

More FM, which is owned by TV3, said if awarded the licence, it plans to invest €11 million in the new station.

More FM, whose presenters will include TV3 stalwart Mark Cagney, is expecting to generate advertising revenues of €2.9m in the first year, rising to €7.9m after three years.

But rival bidder 4FM, which plans to invest €9m launching the station, is expecting revenues of €2.2m in the first year, rising to €4.9m after three years.

The 4FM consortium includes Thomas Crosbie Holdings (parent company of the Irish Examiner); The Irish Times; Fox Radio (whose members are former Lite FM owners Martin Block, Howard Block and Al Dunne); Bay Broadcasting, which had two temporary 30-day Licences to operate an easy listening radio service, targeting the 45 and over audience; former Bank of Ireland deputy governor Mary Redmond and Vienna Investments, whose directors include radio industry veteran Dermot Hanrahan.

Asked at the hearing by BCI chairman Conor Maguire to explain More FM’s revenue target, the station’s chairman and TV3 chief executive David McRedmond said his figures were based on detailed negotiations with advertising agencies. He said TV3 had a track record of setting ambitious revenue targets and consistently beat them.

Martin Block, fronting the 4FM submission, said it was a natural mistake” for start-up stations to overstate their income and, by being more cautious, 4FM would not have to ask its shareholders for further investment.

Both More FM and 4FM said the radio listeners over the age of 45 were poorly served by RTÉ and local stations. They said the growing proportion of the population aged over 45 would benefit from the new service.

Mr Block said the 4FM station would “reflect the tastes” of the over-45 market and that the vast majority of music played would be from the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s.

This would be complemented by news and talk that would make up 30% of the total programming.

More FM promised several well-known presenters, live 24-hour news bulletins, regional studios and said a much larger proportion of its music will be from this decade, compared with the 4FM bid.

The board of the BCI will make its decision on January 28.

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