The success of Communicorp's various Irish radio stations in the recent JNLR listenership survey results (covering the period from July 2013 to June 2014) prompted the company's chairwoman Lucy Gaffney to pen a letter to staff to "acknowledge the focus, hard work and dedication".
She noted that the survey results marked the first time "EVER" that Communicorp saw "ALL" brands increase their reach and share in a single book. "The results arrives in the face of extremely challenging market conditions in our key demographics and yet we have managed to move forward as one, whilst our competitors have stalled or slipped back," she said.
“This should be a source of great pride for us all. I know that it certainly is for our shareholder [Denis O’Brien] and the entire Communicorp board.”
She reminded staff that, as a group, Communicorp now has 19.8 per cent of all radio listenership in Ireland, up from 18.7 per previously. She expressed delight at Newstalk "fast approaching" being the number three station nationally, while Today FM "further consolidated" its position as the State's second largest station. Spin "further closed the gap" on FM104 to become the second- largest radio station in Dublin, while 98FM is "showing definitive signs of recovery".
Spin South West stretched its lead as the number one station for 15- to 34-year- olds in its regional market, while TXFM (formerly Phantom) benefited from its relaunch, with a “great first book that shows great potential”.
Gaffney closed by saying it was “now imperative that we maintain our focus and energy to continue putting our competitors under pressure” and “I look forward to even more impressive results as we all move forwards together”.
There was less good news this week at Independent News & Media (INM), O'Brien's other big media interest in Ireland, where he owns just under 30 per cent of the shares. Audit Bureau of Circulation figures released on Thursday showed INM's four national titles – the Irish Independent, the Herald, the Sunday Independent and the Sunday World – all shed sales in the first six months of this year. The annual declines ranged from 5.1 per cent for the Sunday Independent to 11.9 per cent for the Herald.
On foot of these disappointing results, it will be interesting to see if INM chairman Leslie Buckley, a close business associate of both O'Brien and Gaffney, issues a rocket rather than praise to staff.