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Denis O'Brien, the owner of Communicorp Group Ltd.

For the first time, a Denis O'Brien radio station will have to compete for its licence

It’s a battle between TXFM and the former boss of Phantom FM.

THE RADIO LICENCE currently held by TXFM, the alternative music station owned by media giant Communicorp, will be put out to competition, it has been confirmed.

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) said its contract for a music-driven (alternative rock) service in Dublin will be open to a competitive licensing process from next week.

This is the first time a Communicorp-owned station’s 10-year licence has not been automatically renewed.

The announcement comes after two expressions of interest – one from TXFM and another from Simon Maher, the former head of Phantom FM – were registered for the licence.

Maher and most of the founders of Phantom left the rock and indie station after Communicorp took executive control of the company in 2010.

The station was relaunched as TXFM last year.

“The committee considered each expression of interest on its own merits in the context of the relevant sound broadcasting service and franchise area and having regard to the relevant statutory provisions,” the BAI said in a statement.

 In each case, it was agreed that both of the expressions of interest received had been made in good faith.

The BAI will also start a “fast track” procedure for the quasi-national news licence currently held by Newstalk, after receiving only one application for the contract.

Notices for both services will be advertised from 21 December, the authority said.

The BAI will either award the contract at the end of March or hold oral hearings with the two bidders before making a decision later next year.

Read: The former boss of Phantom wants the station back – and he’s taking on Communicorp

Read: Phantom FM 1996 – 2014: A brief history, by its staff — past, way past and pirate

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