Examiner leaves Radio Ireland
THE Examiner group has pulled out of Radio Ireland, blaming policy differences with the Independent Radio and Television Commission (IRTC) its decision.
The Cork newspaper's parent company, Thomas Crosbie Holdings, was to take a 15 per cent stake in the new national radio station which will start in March. However, last night it said it would not be proceeding with its £500,000 investment.
Managing director Mr Anthony Dinan said a number of issues had arisen during negotiations with the IRTC. One issue concerned possible joint advertising and/or marketing initiatives between Radio Ireland and the Examiner group
The IRTC had indicated that any arrangement which specifically disadvantaged competitors would not be acceptable, according to Mr Dinan. "We were investing for commercial reasons obviously we want to take advantage of any commercial advantages," he said.
Crosbie Holdings now holds an 8.5 per cent stake in North West Radio and 15 per cent of Mid West, Radio, since it acquired the Western People group of newspapers. Mr Dinan said that the company had been put on notice that, as it also owned a national newspaper and these shareholdings, it was unlikely that it would be given approval for any further holdings in radio.
It is EU policy to encourage competition and we felt competition was being discouraged."
He, added that the Examiner group's position vis a vis dominance in the media would be very small compared to say, the Independent group. "Having had discussions, we decided that it just wasn't for us."
IRTC chairman Mr Niall Stokes said it was the commission's policy: "to encourage diversity of ownership in the independent radio sector. The fact that the Examiner group owned a national newspaper and the radio shareholdings was not an issue regarding its investment in Radio Ireland.
He said it would be wrong to suggest that the IRTC put any impediment in the way of Crosbie, Holdings involvement as shareholders in the new station. Mr Stokes said, the IRTC had been critical of RTE and how it had cross promoted its products and it had made clear that it did not want a similar or parallel situation arising in the independent radio sector.
He added that, in all other respects, negotiations had been progressing well and a contract would be signed with Radio Ireland shortly.
Radio Ireland said the £4 million project was fully funded and it would be announcing a major new investor to take the Examiner's stake within the next two weeks. A spokesman said the station regretted the withdrawal of Thomas Crosbie Holdings.