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Dublin: 2°C Thursday 2 December 2021

The Workers' Party wants to nationalise Dublin's alternative rock radio service

The party says RTÉ should take over the alternative rock station.

A mural promoting Phantom 105.2 in Dublin
A mural promoting Phantom 105.2 in Dublin
Image: Rabbit Hole Promotions

THE DUBLIN ALTERNATIVE rock radio service – previously known as Phantom 105.2 but currently broadcasting as TXFM – is due to come off air later this year.

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland confirmed on Wednesday that it had received no applications for the licence, which was advertised last December.

In the wake of the development, there’s now been a call for the station to be nationalised.

The Workers’ Party says RTÉ should take over the service, with Dublin North-West representative Jimmy Dignam stating:

“As with all forms of art and music, it is essential that diversity is provided across the spectrum. TXFM, and before it Phantom FM, has provided Dublin’s radio listeners with a great service, by broadcasting alternative music since the 1990s. It would be a real shame to see it go.

The national broadcaster has a duty to cater for a variety of tastes and niches across its television platform, so why not radio too? Just because TXFM isn’t ‘commercially viable’ does not mean its service isn’t appreciated or needed.

Set up by a group of radio enthusiasts in 1996 and initially broadcasting as ‘Spectrum’ from a shed in Sandyford, Phantom FM went through a number of pre-legal incarnations before taking to the air as a commercial outfit in 2006 with backing from the likes of Paul McGuinness’s Principle Management and Denis Desmond’s Gaeity Investments.

However, the effects of the financial crash had a massive impact on the niche station before it had a chance to make a profit. The company was restructured, with Denis O’Brien’s Communicorp coming on board in 2010 and taking over executive control.

Most of the original line-up of Phantom presenters left around that time, with more going in March of 2014 when the station was closed down briefly before relaunching as TXFM.

Licence at an end 

The ten year term of the licence comes to an end in October of this year. There had been two expressions of interest in it, including one from Phantom founder Simon Maher, but it was confirmed by the BAI this week that there had been no applications in advance of the deadline.

The station’s shareholders are expected to discuss the situation with the BAI before informing staff of the details of the wind-down. Its closure will make six full-time employees redundant.

“The Workers’ Party calls on RTÉ to nationalise TXFM by taking over its broadcasting licence, save the at-risk jobs and continue to provide this much needed service,”  Dignam said in his statement.

In response, an RTÉ spokesperson said the BAI had no role in designating RTÉ’s broadcast licences and that all enquiries should be directed to the Authority. The national broadcaster already had an alternative music service, the spokesperson added – noting that the digital and online ’2XM’ launched in 2008.

A spokesperson for the BAI said that all matters relating to the TXFM licence “will be considered in the first instance by the Contract Awards Committee” of the authority.

The Worker’s Party, which split in 1992 (Democratic Left later merged with the Labour Party) currently has two councillors – one in Dublin and one in Cork.

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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