TXFM, the Dublin alternative music station previously known as Phantom 105.2, is set to close down. The consortium behind the loss-making station decided not to proceed with an application to renew its licence, saying it was not commercially viable.
As Phantom, the station began life in a shed in the mid-1990s and became Irish radio’s “pirate that went straight”, winning a 10-year licence for a “niche, alternative rock music service” for the capital in 2006.
However, Denis O'Brien's Communicorp, which had a 33 per cent stake in TXFM's owner Dublin Rock Radio Limited, said it had been unable to make the station profitable.
"It is with great regret that we have come to this decision, however despite a recent rebranding and a restructuring of the business, it has not been possible to make the station commercially viable," said Communicorp chief executive Gervaise Slowey.
The decision means six people will lose full-time jobs, while a number of part-time presenters and contributors will also lose income. This follows earlier redundancies in 2014, when the station rebranded to TXFM from Phantom and revamped its schedule in a bid to turn its fortunes around.
"Communicorp are committed to funding their share of the redundancy costs," Ms Slowey said. The other investors in Dublin Rock Radio are Denis Desmond's Gaeity Investments and Evergreen Ventures, which is associated with former U2 manager Paul McGuinness.
Ahead of a March 29th deadline, neither of the two parties to make an expression of interest in the service – Dublin Rock Radio and a separate group fronted by Phantom founder Simon Maher – applied for the licence.
However, rival Dublin rock music station Radio Nova said it would be interested in talking to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) about the future of the licence.
"We believe an alternative rock music licence could be viable and complementary to Radio Nova and, now that Communicorp have ruled themselves out, we would be very interested in engaging with the BAI," said Radio Nova chief executive Kevin Branigan.
“It would be a loss to diversity for the alternative service to close down,” he added.
Dublin Rock Radio chairman Trevor Bowen thanked staff, presenters, contributors and listeners for supporting the station. The exact timing of when TXFM comes off air depends on the outcome of its discussions with the BAI.
TXFM had about 19,000 listeners, or just a 0.7 per cent share of the Dublin radio market, according to the latest Joint National Listenership Research survey. This made it the least popular of the stations with an FM radio licence for the capital.
The Independent Broadcasters of Ireland group, which represents commercial radio stations, said it was “a sad day” for the radio industry and a reminder of “the very thin margins between commercial viability and closure”.