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Radiocentre Ireland formed to promote medium of radio to advertisers

RTÉ and Independent Broadcasters of Ireland (IBI) have come together to create a new body that will promote the growth of advertising on radio.

IBI, which represents Irish radio stations other than those operated by RTÉ, and the State-owned broadcaster have formed Radiocentre Ireland and are now seeking a chief executive to champion the audio sector and the effectiveness of radio advertising.

The position, which is being advertised this week, will be for an initial three-year term, with a view to a permanent contract.

Although RTÉ and IBI have previously collaborated on the Choose Radio initiative on an ad-hoc basis, Radiocentre Ireland marks their first formal multi-year agreement with committed funding.

The board of the organisation – which is modelled on a similar body in the UK radio market – comprises seven executives from across the industry.

RTÉ is represented by head of 2fm Dan Healy, group head of commercial Geraldine O’Leary and head of trading Debbie Kennedy. IBI is represented by Wireless Group Ireland managing director Sean Barry, Bauer Media Audio Ireland chief executive Simon Myciunka and Radio Kerry chief executive Tim O’Keeffe.

John Purcell, who is IBI chairman and chief executive of KCLR FM, will serve as independent chair.

Mr Purcell said Radiocentre Ireland planned to commission more research that demonstrates the return-on-investment from radio advertising in a bid to lure back some of the marketing spend that has been lost to social media and other forms of online advertising.

The radio sector has argued in recent years that its share of advertising revenues do not reflect the popularity of Irish stations and their content.

‘Sleeping giant’

“We want to waken the sleeping giant that is the medium of radio,” Mr Purcell said.

The appointed chief executive will likely be someone from either the radio industry or a marketing background who is familiar with research and “can tell the story of radio”, he added.

In common with other forms of media, radio had a rocky 2020, at one point in the early part of the pandemic seeing “cataclysmic drops” in the advertising revenues on which the medium almost wholly depends.

One estimate from marketing communications group Core suggests Irish radio advertising fell 7.3 per cent last year to €102.4 million, with the extent of the contraction limited by Government spending on public-health campaigns later in the year.

“We’re still not back to full normality, but it is going positively,” Mr Purcell said.

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