PRESS RELEASE 9th November 2004
Solas FM hands back AM Religious Licence
in order to pursue a similar Licence on FM.
Solas FM, which was awarded an AM (Medium Wave) religious radio licence for Dublin City and County by the IRTC (now, BCI) in April 2001, has decided, very reluctantly, to hand back the licence in order to pursue a similar licence on FM.
When the IRTC advertised for the Religious Licence for Dublin City and County on AM, the RTE facility at Beaumont was the proposed transmission site designated by the IRTC in its own "Guide to Submissions” for the new service and, although Solas received a quotation from RTE for transmission services at Beaumont, subsequently, RTE decided to cease transmission from there and sell off the site.
Solas then spent over a year searching for an alternative site. Finally, one was located at a site off the M50 and planning permission sought for a mast and transmitter, which was granted earlier this year, only after an appeal to An Bord Pleanala.
Meanwhile, listenership to AM has plummeted not least because RTE has now ceased broadcasting on it altogether in Dublin and from its transmitter in Athlone. Thus, the whole nature of AM broadcasting, not only for Solas but also for AM in general, has dramatically changed. In addition, the installation, the ongoing running costs, the maintenance and upkeep of an AM mast and transmission facility are about ten times greater than for FM, not to mention the vast difference in quality of FM over AM. This makes AM very unattractive for potential donors and supporters.
Against this background, it does not make sense, now, for Solas to invest further monies in developing AM transmission facilities.
Solas has made representations to the BCI to either allocate a FM frequency to Solas or, if this was not legally possible, to advertise for a religious licence on FM. In response, the BCI has made it clear to Solas that it could not undertake such action, as long as Solas held on to the AM licence.
Solas is a "Not-for-Profit” Company. All the Directors - and others involved, at present - work on a totally voluntary basis. The Solas Board has given a very large commitment of time, effort and finance to making AM work. All monies expended to date have been donated - the vast majority, by small donations, from committed Christians.
Solas is a member of the European Conference of Christian Radios (CERC). Religious Radio, throughout Europe, is mainly on FM. RCF in France has 51 FM licences and there are over 500 Religious Radio stations on FM in Italy alone. All of the ten countries, which joined the EU in May 2004, have Christian Radio Stations on FM. Ireland remains one of the few countries in Europe that does not have Religious Radio on FM.
Meanwhile, it is Solas's intention to continue building up its support base in order to promote the establishment of a religious station on FM in Dublin, similar to the many broadcasting at present throughout Europe.
It seems fair and reasonable to Solas that Christian radio should operate on an equal footing with all other independent radio stations in Ireland. Solas's prospective listeners deserve nothing less.
Solas now intends to write, individually, to every one of its donors to explain its decision to hand back the AM licence.
Further information from Declan Cronin.
Tel. 087 2561416 or e-mail: email@example.com www.solasfm.ie