Paul Claffey was the man behind North West Radio who held the licence for south Donegal until 2004 when it was awarded to Ocean FM.
At the time there were protests about the decision with people taking to the streets. There was a bitter war of words after an Ocean FM commissioned report described North West Radio listeners as “old, conservative and from a lower social class.”
It was also controversial with the decision-makers split three votes each with the chair of the BAI casting in favour of the new station.
At the time North West Radio was the most popular in Ireland.
Mr Claffey continues to run the highly successful Mid-West Radio – but would dearly love to get broadcasting licence back for south Donegal, Sligo and north Leitrim.
The process for getting the next licence in 2014 starts later this year.
“It is my opinion that we would be very well placed to serve the people of the region for the next licence period,” Mr Claffey told the Sligo Weekender newspaper.
He said his MWR station would share content on a new North West Radio station, insisting: “The shared arrangement worked very well before and would be reignited again. It is the ideal option in the current climate when a lot of stations are now losing money.”
Sources told donegaldaily.com that Mr Claffey had already put together a consortium to get ready for the bidding process with several “very experienced and respected” individuals from Co Donegal who were prepared to invest in the new station.
It’s thought the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland is keen to see some stations merge to save them from going bust in the current economic climate as advertising revenue goes down and continues to migrate to the internet.
In that situation, MWR could have the edge on winning the new licence.
Some radio stations – including Ocean FM – have been lobbying the Government for a state hand-out, but propping up commercial organisations with taxpayers money would prove unpopular.
The possible closure of Ocean FM – if it lost the licence – would see 20 people lose their jobs.
Tim Collins, chief executive of Ocean FM (and a director of the troubled newspaper group River Media which publishes three Donegal newspapers) told the Sligo Weekender that the company would bid to keep the licence.
“This is our livelihood. There is no way we are going to walk away,” he told the newspaper.
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