Media Notes (30-05-08)

This week’s media notes:

The latest Dublin radio licence battle is under way with big names like the Guardian Media Group and businessman Ulick McEvaddy coming up in the applications. The proposed station will be a classic rock service, which would probably aim to sound like a mixture of Phantom FM and Q102. Radio is still extremely popular in Ireland and that’s proven by the ever-increasing number of radio stations hitting the airwaves – this could expand even further if DAB, or some digital radio alternative, picks up speed in the near future.
Read More: Samantha McCaughren’s article in The Sunday Business Post.

The businessman who is no stranger to Irish radio, Denis O’Brien, has upped his shares in newspaper empire Independent News & Media giving him his biggest stake yet. O’Brien spent over €27.5m on the stock and now holds a 22.67% chunk of the company. The magic number for O’Brien is 25% as at this point he will be able to block special resolutions going through the board. CEO Anthony O’Reilly holds 27.88% of the company and has little room to move upwards unless he wants to launch a formal takeover of the company – that would only be necessary as a last-resort defensive measure against O’Brien as O’Reilly already has tight control of the company even if he doesn’t own a majority of its shares. O’Brien has never stated his intentions with IN&M but most believe he is looking to eventually buy it up.
Read More: Arthur Beesley’s article in The Irish Times (subs required).

Sticking with the radio theme it looks like Irish businessmen are about to take control of Virgin Radio in the UK. Donnach O’Driscoll and Adrian Robinson, who head up Absolute Radio, are said to be putting down €76m for the suite of stations (although they won’t be allowed to use the ‘Virgin’ brand name any more). Virgin Radio is one of three national independent radio stations in the UK and it also has a number of niche stations on DAB. The radio station is currently owned by SMG plc, although that had decided to sell off various parts of the company to concentrated on its TV offerings. SMG had previously been in talks with UTV about a merger but this was rejected early last year and hasn’t risen its head again since then.
Read More: Laura Noonan’s article in The Irish Independent.

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