Radio Nova awarded Dublin rock licence


DÚN LAOGHAIRE-based Radio Nova, which is backed by millionaire executives Barry O'Callaghan, Pat McDonagh and Ulick McEvaddy, has been awarded the licence to operate a classic rock radio station in Dublin.

The decision was announced yesterday by the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI), which decided not to bother with an oral hearing even though three groups had applied for the licence.

This is the first time that the BCI has awarded a commercial radio licence without first holding an oral hearing.

Radio Nova won the licence ahead of applications from Rock Radio, which was backed by Dublin-based alternative rock licence holder Phantom 105; and Classic Rock Radio, which was backed by Wicklow station East Coast Radio and the Guardian Media Group in Britain.

Commenting on the decision, BCI chief executive Michael O'Keeffe said: "The unanimous view of the board was that the quality of the application received from Radio Nova 100 was such that it warranted the award of the licence after phase one consideration. We now look forward to commencing contract negotiations."

Radio Nova spokesman Keith Brannigan said the group was "extremely excited" to have won the licence. "We're delighted to have been given such an early decision," he said. "We submitted a comprehensive business plan and we feel we're now in a position to deliver on that."

Radio Nova plans to go on air next August from studios in Dún Laoghaire. Its backers have agreed to invest €3.7 million in the station, including €1.4 million for its launch. Radio Nova expects to be profitable in 2013, its fourth year of operation. It has projected turnover of €1.35 million for 2010, rising to €3.8 million in 2014.

The station expects to make a loss of €1.5 million in its first year of operation with combined losses of just under €1 million for years two and three.

The company has projected an after-tax profit of €71,000 in 2013 rising to €314,000 a year later.

Radio Nova expects to employ 32 staff. Riverdeep founder Pat McDonagh and its chief executive Barry O'Callaghan each own 15 per cent of Radio Nova.

Vienna Investments, which is headed by Dermot Hanrahan and includes aviation executive Ulick McEvaddy as a backer, has a 30 per cent stake.

Bay Broadcasting, which ran a pilot classic rock station in Dublin last year, also owns 30 per cent, while Des Whelan, chief executive of Waterford-based WLR FM, has a 10 per cent stake.