Ten more years: Sunshine 106.8 gets to keep Dublin ‘niche’ radio licence

The team behind Dublin radio station Sunshine 106.8 have been awarded a new ten year broadcast licence, beating out competition from a rival consortium ‘Easy FM’

The decision, confirmed by the BAI this afternoon, follows a long competition process that culminated in an oral hearing in April of this year.

The licence in question is for a “niche, music-driven radio service for Dublin city and county”.

A spokesperson for the BAI said the authority would now commence contract negotiations with the station management.

A little bit country?

The backers of the mooted rival station had been proposing a return to a more ‘pure country’ based radio station.

The Easy FM team, which included former Sunshine programme director Keith Shanley and veteran radio investor Martin Block, had argued in their submission:

[The station] will be clearly and immediately different from all the stations that exist in the Dublin marketplace. Its aim is to be a small-scale station of distinction-easily identified for its quality and credibility with a country audience.

Sunshine, which began life in 2001 as Dublin’s Country Mix, had argued against any new attempt to reintroduce a more ‘pure country’ format:

Our experience over more than a decade clearly shows that any music?led radio service focusing exclusively on the ‘pure country’ format will not only struggle to survive in today’s market but will also be unviable if it is to provide any meaningful employment and garner a reasonable audience share in the medium to long term.

Their submission stressed:

Our extensive market research backs this up.

Sunshine’s backers include current chief executive Sean Ashmore, Radio Nova CEO Kevin Branigan, showband star Paddy Cole and Senator Paschal Mooney.

The broadly easy-listening station was allowed to change its name from its earlier ‘Country Mix’ incarnation by the BAI in 2010 in a bid to appeal to a broader array of listeners and advertisers.

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