TCH group get radio licence

A CONSORTIUM featuring Thomas Crosbie Holdings (TCH) and the Irish Times has been awarded the country’s latest multi-city music radio licence.

The Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) yesterday awarded the 10-year easy listening music licence to Choice Broadcasting Ltd, which will trade as 4FM when it hits the airwaves towards the end of this year.

The consortium is made up of five investors. Four hold stakes of 22.25% — Irish Examiner/Sunday Business Post publisher TCH; Bay Broadcasting, Fox Radio (which is led by former Lite FM executives Martin Block and Al Dunne) and former FM104 executive Dermot Hanrahan’s Vienna Investments. The Irish Times holds a 10% stakeholding, while Choice’s chairwoman — solicitor Dr Mary Redmond holds a 1% share. The consortium beat TV3 to the licence.

The new licence is subject to contract negotiations and is expected to be passed in the coming months.

Choice/4FM’s chief spokesman Martin Block said he hoped the new station will be operating by October.

The station will target the over 45-year-old market and will broadcast to Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick and Clare. Mr Block said the consortium is looking to break even by the second half of its fourth year in operation.

Its backers will invest €9 million in getting the station operating and another €2m on marketing the new service.

“We know we can’t totally compete with the local aspect some regional stations provide, but we hope we can be a music-based alternative to listeners who like to dip in to other stations,” commented Mr Block yesterday.

“Our real ambition is to take listeners away from (RTÉ) Radio One. Our output will be 70% music to 30% talk, so we see ourselves as a viable alternative and we feel we can take listeners from RTÉ in places like Galway, Cork and Limerick in particular,” he added.

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