NewsTalk suffers new blow as radio backer pulls out

Struggling NewsTalk 106FM has suffered a setback after another station decided to dispose of its 2.6 per cent stake in the Dublin radio station.

WLR FM, which is investing E4m (£2.8m) in a new studio complex in Waterford, now has other priorities, according to a spokesman.

It has sold its stake in NewsTalk for an undisclosed sum to two of the remaining shareholders, Radio 2000 and Kilkenny Carlow local radio.

Central to WLR FM’s other priorities is its stake in the Irish south-east regional station Beat FM, which is due to come on air this summer.

WLR FM managing director Des Whelan said the decision to pull out of the Dublin station was not a vote of no confidence in it.

“We have enough on our plate right now,” he said, adding that he believed NewsTalk 106 would ultimately be successful.

Another shareholder in the station, Capital Radio Productions, which has a 12.5 per cent stake, is the owner of successful Dublin station FM 104.

Capital declined to take part in a fresh round of funding this year and its stake was diluted. After a review of NewsTalk, the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland found the station’s ratio of income to expenditure was not sustainable, but the station now says its cost base is under control.

One of NewsTalk’s highest-profile presenters, Daire O’Brien, surprised management by suddenly deciding to leave to concentrate on writing.

By Des Cryan in Dublin

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