Communicorp says Irish radio sector is "in crisis"

The media company has called for a full economic evaluation of the industry

Media company Communicorp has called for an "immediate economic evaluation" of the radio sector in Ireland.

It comes after the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) this week announced that it is seeking submissions "from parties interested in the provision of new commercial analogue radio services".

Responding to the announcement, Lucy Gaffney, Chairperson of Communicorp, said the radio sector is "in crisis" and facing "unprecedented pressure" on commercial revenues.

She explained: "The digital share of the advertising market has grown to 40% with Google and Facebook commanding a large portion of the revenue and they are both unregulated.

"Meanwhile, the radio industry in Ireland is forced to continue operating in an outdated and inappropriate regulatory environment. Any decision to issue new licences will only serve to compound the existing pressures."

The company - which owns stations including Newstalk, Today FM and 98FM - has formally written to Communications Minister Denis Naughten seeking a meeting over the need for "urgent reform" of the independent radio industry.

Ms Gaffney added: "The minister must move to immediately abolish the BAI broadcasting levy. The minister has indicated proposed changes but nothing has happened to date.

"In addition, the licence fee must be re-distributed and made available to the independent radio sector for the provision of public service broadcasting".

She concluded that a "formal and full" economic evaluation of the sector must be undertaken before any new licences are awarded.

"This evaluation should include an assessment on the number of direct and indirect jobs created by the sector and also an analysis of revenues and the impact of non-regulated international players on the sector," she noted.