OX review: auction Irish radio licences

As seven consortiums compete for two additional radio licences in Dublin, the Irish Government has been urged to consider auctioning radio licences and thereby generate windfall revenues.

The proposal comes from Dutch company OX Consultations, which carried out a review of the radio licence scene at the Government’s request. A move to an auction-based system is one of four recommendations aimed at improving the current licensing procedures.

Another area considered by OX was the introduction of a penalty points system for radio stations that fail to meet their programme requirements as set out in their licences. If a station exceeded a number of points, its licence would be suspended or withdrawn.

It is also recommended that the current rule that no station can own more than 25 per cent of the total number of radio licences should be reconsidered in the light of the size of the audience served by the station, audience shares and format.

In its final recommendation, OX said a special taskforce should be set up to look at the introduction of digital radio in the Republic.

The five applications for an alternative rock music station for Dublin, and two for the proposed multicultural broad-format licence, were due to appear on the Broadcasting Commission Ireland website on 20 July. A decision will be made in September.

By Des Cryan

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