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Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 6 May 1969

Vol. 240 No. 4

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Commercial Radio Station.


asked the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs if any proposals have been made to him by the proprietors of the Irish national newspapers for a franchise to operate an advertising backed radio station in Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter.


asked the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs whether his Department have received representations regarding the possible establishment of a privately-owned advertising backed radio station; if so from whom and when; the present state of negotiations; and whether he will approve of the establishment of such a station.

With your permission, a Cheann Comhairle, I propose to take Questions Nos. 12 and 13 together.

As reported in the public press, an application was made to me on behalf of a group including Independent Newspapers Ltd., the Irish Press Ltd., the Irish Times Ltd., the Cork Examiner and the Creation magazine group for a licence to operate an international commercial sound broadcasting station, based in Ireland. This application was dated 10th April, 1969.

Amending legislation would be necessary to enable me to license any organisation other than Radio Telefís Éireann to operate a public broadcasting station here. Apart from the considerations of policy which would be involved in changing that position, the long and medium wavebands are, as is well known, seriously congested. The feasibility of operating a high power station here giving international coverage without causing harmful interference, and violating international agreements to which we are parties, has been examined from time to time by engineers of RTE and of my Department, but no satisfactory solution has been found nor has one been offered in any of the various proposals for commercial radio that have been made to me by interested parties over the years. Obviously I would have to be satisfied on this aspect before other aspects could be considered.

The question of entering into negotiations with the group has not therefore arisen. If such a valuable broadcasting concession were available for grant to private interests, the normal procedure would be to invite applications from all interested parties.

Did the initiative come from the Minister or from the group? Were there discussions before the formal application was made?

The Deputy may take it that the initiative came from the group and not from the Minister.

I want to ask were there any suggestions beforehand on an informal basis?

I have no information of such.

Is the Minister aware of the fact that these meetings had been taking place for quite a considerable time before the formal application was made?

Yes. I am aware an approach was made to the Department before the formal application was made. That is true.

Has the Minister any information to give the House as to whether the discussions touched on the possibility of a totally commercial TV station to be run in this country by the same consortium of newspapers? Was this touched upon in previous discussions?

I have not that information available to me at the moment.