Seven Towers - Ofcom Licensing

Seven Towers - Ofcom Licensing

Application for ILR Licence for Ballymena


Summary Page 3

General Information

(a) Name of applicant, address, telephone Page 5

and fax numbers, email address Page 5

(b) Main contact (For public purposes) Page 5

(c) Proposed station name Page 5

(d) Brief description of programme service Page 5

(e) Main contact (For Ofcom purposes) Page 5

Section 105(A): Ability to Maintain Proposed Service

1 Ownership and control of company which will

operate the licence Page 6

(a) Board of Directors Page 8

■ Other Shareholders Page 15

(b) Proposed Investors and Shareholding Structure Page 17

■ Shareholding structure Page 17

■ Shareholders agreement Page 18

■ Any corporate body providing more than

30% of required funding Page 18

(c) Involvement in specified activities Page 18

2 Financial and Business Plan

(a) Overall Financial Strategy Page 19

■ Critical success factors Page 21

(b) Funding Page 22

(c) Financial projections Page 22

■ Economic overview Page 22

■ The media market

■ Building listenership and driving sales

(d) Audience projections Page 27

(i) Projected 15+ population Page 27

(ii) Projections for listenership ratings Page 28

(iii) Expected impact on existing services Page 28

(iv) Assumptions Page 29

3 Transmission Proposals Page 30

Section 105(B) and (C):

Catering for Tastes and Interests/Broadening Choice Page 33

4 Programming Philosophy Page 34

(i) Overall programme philosophy Page 34

(ii) Programme strategies Page 34

(iii) Programme schedule Page 40

5 Proposed Format Page 45

Section 105(D):Evidence of Local Demand or Support

6 Evidence of Demand Page 47

Introduction Page 48

(i)–(v) Objectives, key questions, methodology,

sample size, time and place of research: Page 48

(vi) Summary of main findings Page 50

(vii) Data tables Page 58

7 Evidence of Support Page 59

Declaration Page 63

Certificate of Incorporation Page 65

8 List of Appendices Page 66

Appendices (a) to (k) have been supplied in support of this submission.



Application for ILR Licence for Ballymena


I am pleased to note the strong local component in the

consortium and the high value being placed on local news

and events, and partnership opportunities with local groups.

Melanie Christie, CEO, Ballymena Business Centre Ltd.


"Small stations are the least profitable, with a

negative average operating margin of around -

9% of revenue"

Radio – Preparing for the future

For those with little or no experience of building and

running small local stations, Ofcom’s assessment of the

viability of small stations must make sobering reading.

Indeed it would be surprising if it is not uppermost in

the thoughts of Ofcom in its decision making process

for this licence.

This statistic however, hides the fact that many small

stations are profitable and sustainable businesses with

excellent reach and market share.

In our application we make a very simple case based

on simple logic, a logic built on our experience in

building and running profitable small stations and

profitable local and regional newspapers.

Our case is this:

■ In order to be a success, local radio must be so

local and so completely integrated into the

community it serves that it is a ‘must listen’ for

most people in its TSA.

■ A station will only attract most people if it has

"something for everyone", i.e. if it targets all adults.

■ Providing high quality local content, particularly the

content demanded by people, i.e. local news and

current affairs, sports, weather, traffic and travel,

information on events and community activities,

can cost a lot.

■ However, if most people are listening, a station will

have above par reach and market share.

■ Because its reach is higher, advertisers wishing to

reach as broad a base of potential customers in the

TSA will have no choice but to use the local radio

station. Higher advertising and sponsorship revenue

pays for better quality content.

■ Lastly, because this licence is so small, local

partnership is vital. So instead of competing head

to head with the largest and most successful local

newspaper in Northern Ireland, we propose to

share resources, keeping our costs down and

jointly marketing both services, thus attracting more

revenue and underpinning viability.

Seven Towers FM will be a broadly based local radio

station and a key part of the community and business

infrastructure of Ballymena. Its content, including

music and programming, is based on what Ballymena

people have said they want from their new local

station. Ballymena people have expressed a clear

ambition to have access to a station that serves a wide

range of needs and interests. Seven Towers FM is that


The Seven Towers:

Ballymena has affectionately been known as the

"Seven Towers" for generations. The towers, including

church spires, spinning mills and castle towers,

represent the pillars of civic society in Ballymena. Our

group chose this name because of its rich symbolism,

embracing all parts of Ballymena society, political and

religious, commercial and community.



General Information

(a) Name of Applicant, Address, Telephone and

Fax Nos, E-mail address

Ballymena Broadcasting Ltd

Pearl Assurance House

2 Donegall Square East



Tel:+ 44 28 9024 0344

Fax: + 44 28 9023 8313


Certificate of Incorporation: see page 65

(b) Main Contact (Public)

Paul McErlean

Tel (daytime): + 44 28 9033 9949


2 Donegall Square East,




(c) Proposed Station Name

Seven Towers FM

(d) Brief Description of Programme Service

Seven Towers FM is a music and information

station for all adults in Ballymena and the

surrounding area with a strong commitment to local


(e) Main contact (for Ofcom purposes)

See appendix (a)



Application for ILR Licence for Ballymena

105 (A)


1. Ownership and control of company which will operate the licence

I would like to lend my support to the consortium bid

being led by the Ballymena Guardian for the proposed FM

radio license covering the Ballymena area. A communitybased

service will be highly beneficial to local people and

service providers. I look forward to a successful outcome.

Majella McAllister, Ballymena Community Partnership

1. Ownership and control of company which will operate the licence

The composition of the Seven Towers FM group has

been specifically designed to address the requirement

to have sufficient financial, technical and human

resources to develop and maintain the proposed new

service for Ballymena.

Given the small population base of the proposed TSA,

ability to maintain the service is, as emphasised by

Ofcom, of particular importance. Indeed, in its

published reasons for awarding the recent Belfast

licence to UTV, ownership and control, even in the

case of a larger and more viable licence, was of

paramount importance.

Recognising this, we would however be greatly

concerned if a comparison of applications for

Ballymena in relation to ownership and control came

down just to an issue of basic "break even" viability.

On this basis most local radio stations in Northern

Ireland are viable and the lowest risk option might be

to simply bolt Ballymena on to an existing radio

operator. However, this low risk, low ambition option

cannot and will not fully exploit all that local radio has

to offer a community like Ballymena.

Our community demands a range of high quality

speech based programming that will require a

minimum level of funding. In our experience, this cost

model can only work if it is accompanied by above par

listenership and advertising revenues.

We are confident that our cost/revenue model works

and we are in a position to guarantee delivery of a high

quality, financially viable local radio station because:

■ We have the financial support of the two most

profitable newspaper groups in Northern Ireland with a

combined market capitalistation in excess of £100M and

turnover in excess of £30M.

■ Our shareholders include business figures from

Ballymena and further afield such as Billy O’Kane, Sam

Morrisson and Jas Mooney with track records of success in

Northern Ireland. None are used to failure and none will

contemplate being associated with anything other than a

successful and highly regarded local radio station.

■ All our shareholders are committed to providing the

financial resources set out in this application and additional

resources should they be necessary to ensure that Seven

Towers FM becomes and remains financially viable.

■ Four members of our group have proven local radio

experience. Their track record in establishing and growing

successful local radio businesses on a similar scale to

Ballymena is second to none on the island of Ireland.

■ Others may claim success by simply buying and

running already successful radio stations. Tim Collins, Padraig

O’Dwyer and Noel Shannon have designed and built the

studios, recruited the staff, devised innovative programme

schedules, successfully launched and marketed new radio

brands and, most importantly, built a viable base of local

advertising revenue that is the envy of the industry.

■ In Paul Kavanagh we have access to a highly

regarded programmer and industry consultant. He has

specialised in advising small local stations on programme

content and music policy and is associated with many of the

most successful commercial local radio stations in Ireland and

the UK.

■ The backbone of our group is the market

experience and reputation of the Ballymena Guardian,

Northern Ireland’s most successful local newspaper. Where

UTV in Belfast was able to claim significant advantage by

sharing resources with U105, we are uniquely positioned to

benefit from the resources of the Ballymena Guardian. A

simple example is sports coverage. The Guardian carries up to

10 pages of local sports news each week. We will utilize the

same network of sports reporters to provide commentary and

analysis for Seven Towers FM. The result will be more and

better local content at a lower cost.

■ In addition, the active involvement of David

Humphreys lends expertise and credibility to our claim that we

will deliver the best local sports coverage bar none in Northern


■ Our bid is supported by comprehensive market

research as well as a significant amount of direct consultation

with key organisations and advertisers. Our listenership and

revenue forecasts are conservative and sensible.

■ The endorsement and support of these local organisations and

businesses will be vital in terms of content delivery and

advertising revenue.

■ We have access to an ideal premises in Ballymena

that is owned by a key shareholder and available at a low rent

and because of this we can be on air within months –

guaranteed (see appendix (b)).

■ Our group is unique in respect of its cross

community composition. At a time when many parts of

Northern Ireland are becoming more segregated, we are

committed to reducing barriers and increasing cross

community dialogue. Local radio, more than any other

medium, has the ability to bridge the gap that divides many of

our communities.

■ Finally, because we are a local group, we are passionately

committed to ensuring that Seven Towers FM really makes a

difference in the lives of Ballymena people. Our members have

contributed to the economic success of Ballymena, created

jobs and made this one of the wealthiest communities in the

province. We believe a new local station can make a positive

contribution to our local economy and we are prepared to go

the extra mile to ensure that this station is a success.



1. Ownership and control of company which will operate the licence

(a) Board of Directors

(a) Board of Directors

Jas Mooney Businessman


John Taylor Alpha Newspaper Group

Dominic Fitzpatrick The Irish News Ltd.

David Humphreys Professional rugby player

Director, Corner Flag


Padraig O’Dwyer KFM

Tim Collins Ocean FM

Paul Kavanagh Riveria Radio

Ballymena is one of the most successful towns in

Northern Ireland, it has a thriving business

community and an affluent population. Our

business plan shows that Seven Towers FM will

be a success and our research shows unanimous

support for our proposed schedule. I’m switched

on to this project because I know we can build a

good business and something that Ballymena

people can call their own.

Jas Mooney

(i) Name, occupation, other directorships, other

media interests, background and relevant


Jas Mooney

■ Occupation:


■ Other Directorships:

Integrated Education Fund, Northern Ireland


Belfast Visitor and Convention Bureau

Business in the Community

Ivy Wood Properties Ltd

■ Background

Jas Mooney is best known throughout the UK as

the man who built Botanic Inns, a chain of

extremely successful pubs, clubs and hotels located

throughout the city. The success of Botanic Inns

sums up the change that has occurred in Northern

Ireland over the past ten years – embodying a

sense of achievement, confidence and vitality.

During his ten-year leadership of Botanic Inns, Jas

expanded the business from one to thirteen outlets.

It was rated in the Financial Times Best 50 UK

Workplaces and in the Northern Ireland Top 100

Companies in 2004, and was awarded UK Pub

Company of the Year in 2003. Employing over 550

people, and with an annual turnover of £20m, it is

without doubt one of Belfast’s most notable success

stories. In October this year, Jas sold his interest as

part of a management buy-out.

Jas was awarded the Institute of Directors’ Lunns’

Award of Excellence in 2003, he was recognised in

2002 for his personal contribution to the industry

by the Federation of Retail Licensed Trade

(Northern Ireland) and in 2004 was acclaimed for

his outstanding contribution by the Hotel and

Catering International Management Association. Jas

is also a board member of the Belfast Visitor and

Convention Bureau (BVCB).

He firmly believes that the future of Northern

Ireland lies in cross-community activity,

demonstrated by his commitment to the Integrated

Education Fund, of which he is chairman. The

organisation is driven by a belief that integrated

education is the key to bringing the two

communities in Northern Ireland to mutual

understanding, tolerance and ultimately friendship.

He is also a board member of Business in the

Community, which supports and encourages

businesses in developing social responsibility and

engagement with the communities in which they

are based.

Jas’s commitment to cross-community activity

epitomises the desire of the group to appeal to

those in Ballymena for whom traditional divides are

becoming less relevant.

Jas’s experience in creating a successful consumer

focused business will be important in ensuring that

Seven Towers FM remains focused on and

responding to the needs of its listeners.



1. Ownership and control of company which will operate the licence

(a) Board of Directors

The Right Honourable Lord Kilclooney of Armagh,

John Taylor

■ Occupation:

Chairman, Alpha Newspaper Group

Life Member, House of Lords

Civil Engineer

■ Other Directorships:

Tontine Rooms Holding Co. Ltd,

T/A Alpha Newspaper Group

Sovereign Properties (NI) Ltd

West Ulster Estates Ltd

Gosford Housing Association Ltd

Tyrone Printing Co. Ltd

Cerdac Belfast Ltd

Northern Newspapers Ltd

Coleraine Chronicle Ltd

Tyrone Constitution Ltd

Ulster Gazette (Armagh) Ltd

Outlook Press Ltd

Alpha Newspapers Ireland Ltd

I know that local media ownership is

important in a town like Ballymena

–much rests on local relationships and

connections. My knowledge of Ballymena

and local media has convinced me that

while there is a clear need for a local

radio station in Ballymena, having strong

roots and established relationships in the

local business community is the surest

way to make it a success.

John Taylor

■ Other Media Interests:

Lord Kilclooney, together with his wife, is a 51%

shareholder in Alpha Newspaper Group.

■ Background

Lord Kilclooney is chairman of Alpha Newspaper

Group, Northern Ireland’s largest weekly newspaper

group. The group owns the Ballymena Guardian

and the Antrim Guardian which have distinguished

histories in serving Ballymena, Antrim and the

surrounding area. Lord Kilclooney is widely

acknowledged for both papers’ commitment to

cross-community ideals and initiatives.

Alpha Group’s total circulation of sold papers

across Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland

exceeds 100,000. At a personal level, fifteen years’

membership of the all-party group on cable,

satellite and media in Westminster have given Lord

Kilclooney expert insight into the media world of

the UK.

In 1980, Alpha Newspaper Group owned only one

newspaper. Since then, Lord Kilclooney has led the

group to its current market-leading position. He has

personally negotiated finance, supervised

acquisitions and determined the development

strategy of the company. Alpha now has a

workforce of 260 and produces 25 different

newspaper titles.

He is one of the most recognisable public figures in

Ireland and the UK, having served as an MP in

both Stormont and Westminster, and as a Member

of the European Parliament. His contribution to

Europe was recognised with an honorary doctorate

for work in the Council of Europe and he was made

a Life Peer in 2001.

As a newspaper publisher, he is an avid consumer of

all media; he has developed a sophisticated

understanding of the media landscape in Northern

Ireland and knows what factors are required for

success in it. John Taylor has contributed to the

transformation of the province in many ways. He was a

member of the Gosford Voluntary Housing Association

for 25 years, 21 of which he served as chairman.

Since 1974, John Taylor has sat on the board of the

Charles Sheils Charity, an organisation that works

towards cross-community housing provision. He has

also worked towards cross-community policing as a

member of the new Northern Ireland Policing Board.

John Taylor is familiar with every aspect of doing

business in Northern Ireland. His understanding of the

business environment in the province can be rivalled

by few.



1. Ownership and control of company which will operate the licence

(a) Board of Directors

Dominic Fitzpatrick

■ Occupation:

Managing Director, The Irish News

■ Other Directorships:

Irish News Ltd.

Interpress NI Ltd

Gane Developments

Ivy Wood Properties Ltd

■ Other Media Interests:

Dominic Fitzpatrick is the managing director and a

12.5% shareholder in the Irish News newspaper.

He also holds a 12.5% share in and is managing

director of Interpress Ltd, a new newspaper and

cold-set magazine printing company established in


I come from a media background where only

those businesses that seek to continually innovate

and improve survive. Anyone can set up a local

newspaper but not everyone can make it a

success. There are a lot of underperforming radio

stations in Northern Ireland that if exposed to the

type of competition I face everyday, would not

survive. Our vision is to establish a group of

stations that are market leaders in the same way

as the Irish News and Alpha newspapers have led

from the front.

Dominic Fitzpatrick

■ Background

The Irish News, one of Belfast’s most widely read

daily papers, has been in operation since 1865.

Belfast readers are presented with a choice of 17

daily newspapers, and the city’s market is one of

the most competitive in the world. Under Dominic’s

stewardship, the paper has gone from strength to

strength. In 2004, the newspaper was one of only

two dailies on the island of Ireland that achieved a

growth in readership.

The Irish News has been the recipient of numerous

awards in all aspects of its business, ranging from

editorial content and overall company performance

to internal workplace initiatives and community

contribution. The most recent survey (Jan–June

2004) from the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC)

showed The Irish News leading all other UK

dailies, with regard to annual actively purchased

growth figures.

Dominic’s personal commitment to the community

and voluntary sector in Northern Ireland is evident

in his management of the newspaper, which has

received the best large company award from the

Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action.

Dominic has involved the paper in numerous crosscommunity

initiatives such as the President’s Prize

and the ‘phone in for peace’ and has devoted

significant time and energy to overcoming some of

the traditional divides in the province. The Irish

News together with The Newsletter are respected

for leading the debate on solutions to the crisis over

parades as a result of courageous joint editorials in

the 1990s.

Dominic is also a strong supporter of the Common

Purpose Programme in Northern Ireland, which

brings individuals from the public, private and

community sectors together in order to exchange

skills and ideas and create awareness of common

goals. Over the past number of years, key staff at

the Irish News, including Dominic, have

participated in the programme.

Dominic’s experience of Northern Ireland’s media

market, particularly his close and detailed

knowledge of the advertising market will contribute

significantly to the success of the station.



1. Ownership and control of company which will operate the licence

(a) Board of Directors

David Humphreys, MBE

■ Occupation:

Professional Rugby Player

■ Other Directorships:

Corner Flag Management Ltd.

I know how important sport is in the everyday

lives of people in Ballymena. This area is literally

a melting pot of all the major sports codes from

GAA, soccer and rugby to athletics and cricket. I

am excited to be part of a team with such a clear

commitment to making local sports coverage a


David Humphreys

■ Background

Ballymena man, David Humphreys was educated

at the Ballymena Academy and is already one of

the town’s sporting legends. Having started his

career at Ballymena RFC, in 1992, he captained

the Irish Schools to their first Grand Slam in the

Home Nations Championship. After graduating in

law from Queen’s University, Belfast, he completed

his legal training at the Institute of Professional

Legal Studies in Belfast. As a qualified solicitor,

David continued his studies at Oxford University,

before becoming a professional rugby union player

in 1995 and making his international debut against

France in 1996.

David has been the talisman for Ulster since 1994

and captained them in their famous European Cup

victory at Lansdowne Road in 1999. A permanent

fixture in the Irish squad, he has twice captained

his country, won numerous man-of-the-match

awards and has lifted the Ulster Player of the Year

Award on five occasions. His recent performance

against the USA, with an excellent nine from nine

shots on goal, made him the first Irish player to

pass the 500-points mark. David was recently

awarded an honourary doctorate by Queen’s

University, Belfast and an MBE for his services to

the game of rugby union.

Sports programming will be a key pillar of Seven

Towers FM’s offering. David’s company, Corner

Flag, has well-established relationships with all the

sporting codes in Northern Ireland and will play an

important part in making Seven Towers FM the

leading station for local sports in the province.



1. Ownership and control of company which will operate the licence

(a) Board of Directors

Padraig O’Dwyer

■ Occupation:

Commercial Director, KFM

Commercial Director, Ocean FM

■ Other Directorships:

Kildare Broadcasting Ltd (t/a KFM)

Northwest Broadcasting Ltd (t/a Ocean FM)

■ Other Media Interests:

Padraig holds 15% of the shares in Kildare

Broadcasting Ltd, 15.92% of the shares of

Northwest Broadcasting Ltd and 3% of the shares

in Star Broadcasting Ltd.

Seven Towers FM will use financial and

marketing models that exploit professional

branding, strategic marketing and careful cost

control while maximising advertising revenue.

Commercial success in a service area of less than

70,000 is about having the flexibility to serve the

different needs of a wide variety of advertisers.

We are confident that our projections are

achievable, our models have been thoroughly

tested in other markets and yielded impressive


Padraig O’Dwyer

■ Background

Based in Co. Donegal, Padraig lives and breathes

local radio and has over 15 years experience in

radio and television. He founded Highland Radio

and Radio Kerry, two of the most successful local

radio stations in Ireland, before becoming

commercial director and joint managing director of

East Coast Radio. All of these stations have

blossomed in service areas similar in size and

nature to that of Seven Towers FM.

Through his long career in radio, Padraig has built

expertise in all aspects of the business: sales and

marketing, business development, programming

and station management. He has played a central

role in preparing and executing strategies to

establish growth in advertising revenue at a

number of local commercial stations in Ireland and

is an authority on brand development and


Padraig is no stranger to start-up situations, having

been part of two different groups that recently won

competitive tender processes for local radio licenses

from the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland. The

first of these, KFM, Co. Kildare, after being on air

for 8 months had reach of 46%. Padraig was

instrumental in the set up of the company, from

the building and fit-out of studios to sourcing

equipment and hiring of staff. He is the commercial

director at the station. He is also part of the

management team at the newest arrival on air in

Ireland, Ocean FM, a local station serving the

north-west of the country. He has undertaken

much of the groundwork in getting their studios up

and running in three different locations. Both KFM

and Ocean have significantly exceeded commercial

revenue targets in their first few months of


Padraig has a proven ability to achieve commercial

success in intensely local service areas with limited

population. He has a clear understanding of the

cost base and revenue streams of stations in areas

similar to Ballymena. His familiarity with

commercial models, revenue generation and

business development will be one of the key

strengths of this bid.



1. Ownership and control of company which will operate the licence

(a) Board of Directors

Tim Collins

■ Occupation:

Managing Director, Ocean FM

■ Other Directorships:

Northwest Broadcasting Ltd (t/a Ocean FM)

Drury Communications Ltd

The Irish Hospice Foundation

Music Network

The Passion Machine Theatre Company

■ Other Media Interests:

Tim owns 10.62% of the shares in Northwest

Broadcasting Ltd, which owns Ocean FM, the

independent commercial station serving Sligo, north

Leitrim and south Donegal.

Seven Towers will set a benchmark in UK radio by

bringing a new local radio model to Northern

Ireland – one that has already achieved

outstanding success in delivering listenership

elsewhere. Our station is all about localism and

our partnership with the Ballymena Guardian will

be crucial in allowing us to provide the local

content that people demand and deserve.

Tim Collins

■ Background

From 1997 to 2003, Tim was director of public

affairs at Drury Communications, one of Ireland’s

largest communications consultancies, with offices

in Dublin and Belfast. During this period, he was

the principal regulatory affairs advisor to the

independent commercial broadcasting sector in the


Working with The Independent Broadcasters of

Ireland, he has led negotiations with the Irish

Government on a wide range of broadcast policy

and regulatory issues over the past five years.

He was also responsible for devising and managing

some of the largest public information campaigns

ever undertaken in Ireland, including the flotation

of Eircom, the referenda on the Belfast Agreement

and the Amsterdam and Nice treaties. Prior to

joining Drury’s, he worked as the full-time special

advisor to the Irish Tánaiste, Mary Harney, TD, and

subsequently to the then Minister for the

Environment, Brendan Howlin, TD.

His involvement in broadcasting began at RTE

television in 1989, where he presented science

and environment programmes. More recently, he

has successfully managed the licence applications

of Shannonside Northern Sound and the KFM

group in Kildare. He led the bid for the local

commercial radio licence in the north-west of

Ireland in 2003 and his group, Ocean FM, was the

successful bidder. All of these bids were supported

by committed groups of local shareholders and

extensive market research. Tim was closely

involved in the set up of Ocean FM, including

project-managing construction of state-of-the-art

studios in three locations, as well as the

recruitment of 50 full and part-time staff.

Tim has seen local radio working at its best at first

hand. He understands the factors that are

necessary to make a success of a commercial

station in a relatively small franchise area. This

knowledge and experience will be reflected in the

ethos of Seven Towers FM.



1. Ownership and control of company which will operate the licence

(a) Board of Directors

Paul Kavanagh

■ Occupation:

Managing Director, Riviera Radio

■ Other Directorships:

Riviera Radio

Dublin Rock Radio

■ Other Media Interests:

Paul holds a 14% interest in Dublin Rock Radio,

Phantom FM

I believe the key to profitability of local radio is

high quality local content. This station must

energise the local community and create a sense

of belonging by keeping people in touch with

everyday issues and events. What follows from

this is that Seven Towers FM will be a ‘must

listen’ for adults in Ballymena and advertisers will

want to be part of it.

Paul Kavanagh

■ Background

Paul Kavanagh started his radio career as a

presenter, working his way to anchor the top rated

breakfast show on Dublin radio. He then moved

into management, becoming programme director of

Sunshine 101, which became Dublin’s number 1


In 1989 he set up Atlantic 252, which became the

UK’s largest commercial radio station with some 6

million listeners. Paul started as programme

director and was then promoted to managing

director. He ran the station in its most profitable


Paul, while running Atlantic 252, became well

known across Europe having been involved in the

setting up and development of top-rated stations

like Radio City in Prague, Soft Favourites in

Stockholm and RTL in Berlin and Paris.

In 1996 Paul joined the board of Emap Radio,

where he was group programme director for 5

years. During this period many Emap stations hit

all time high audience levels. Emap owns well

known radio brands like Kiss 100, Magic 105 and

Key 103 Manchester.

In 2001 Paul set up Kavanagh Media. The

company works in partnership with stations,

producing strategies to extend reach, profitability

and shareholder value. He has worked with most

of the local radio stations in Ireland and also works

with radio groups in the USA, France and UK.

Paul has wide experience in local radio and

currently provides business strategies that grow

audience and advertising revenue for an impressive

list of local commercial stations in Ireland including

WLR, East Coast Radio, Clare FM and Tipp FM.

Paul is the managing director of Riviera Radio

based in Monaco. He is a shareholder and director

of Dublin Rock Radio, which has won the

commercial licence for a rock radio station for




1. Ownership and control of company which will operate the licence

Other Shareholders

Samuel Verner Morrisson

■ Occupation:


For some time now I have seen a gap in the local

media market and it comes as no surprise to me

that there is such a strong demand for a new

local radio station. Our town has a vibrant retail

base and a ready made market for a radio station

that is prepared to offer quality of service to its

customers. I am very pleased to be part of the

Seven Towers FM application.

Samuel Verner Morrisson

■ Background

Although born in Belfast, Sam Morrison started his

business career in Ballymena and has lived in the

area for all his working life. He personifies the

hard-working, assiduous and astute businesspeople

who have brought Ballymena from a rural

market town to the strong regional centre it is


Sam has been doing business in Ballymena for

over 35 years and from this base has established a

string of fashion retail outlets. He currently has 5

outlets in Ballymena and one in Antrim Town.

Capitalising on the success of his Ballymena

business he has expanded and established

successful outlets in most of the major towns in

Northern Ireland including Belfast, Lisburn, Newry,

Omagh and Enniskillen. The most recent link in the

chain is a store that will soon be opening its doors

in Derry.

Sam is a prominent member of the business

community in our service area. He has substantial

retail property interests throughout Northern

Ireland. In Ballymena these include commercial

landmarks such as the Fairhill Shopping Centre

and the Braidwater Retail Park. His company

Kosmos Recycling Ltd., is the main supplier of

waste recycling services in the Ballymena area.

Many locals remember Sam as the man who

broadened the world of entertainment in Ballymena

by building the town’s only multi-screen cinema –

a going concern which he owns to this day.

Through this mesh of business interests Sam is a

very significant employer in Ballymena and its

surrounding area. His nose for good business has

greatly contributed to the development of

Ballymena as a prime shopping area with multiple

spin-offs for the town. He is a member of the Town

Centre Management Committee a body of local

business-people, councillors and police

representatives that work together to create a

positive commercial environment and maintain the

heart of the town by attracting consumers and

businesses alike.

Sam keeps a keen eye on local sports and provides

much needed sponsorship to many local clubs. He

is widely recognised in both rugby and local

football circles for his indispensable financial

support. He also takes an interest in many

charitable causes in the area and his involvement

in this sphere is greatly valued by many local


As a well-established business man who wants the

best for Ballymena, Sam will add an important

local business perspective to this group. His

support stems from a belief that a truly local service

can add to the life of the community while

providing a much needed resource for business in

the area.



1. Ownership and control of company which will operate the licence

Other Shareholders

William Patrick O’Kane

■ Occupation:

Chairman – O’Kane Poultry Group

■ Background

Billy O'Kane is managing director of the well-known

Ballymena business, O'Kane Poultry Ltd. This

family owned and run company was established in

1932 by his father, W.P. O’Kane Senior and is

now Northern Ireland’s second-largest poultry

processor. It ranks among Northern Ireland’s top

companies. As one of the most important

employers in the Ballymena area, with a work-force

of almost 1,000 people, the O’Kane Group plays a

very significant role in the local economy.

O’Kane Poultry’s main business is processing and

distribution; however the group also holds a stake

in a number of other food-related concerns in

Northern Ireland. In the Republic of Ireland,

Castlemahon Food Products Ltd., which employs

over 300 people, is also part of the O’Kane group.

As a member of NIFDA (Northern Ireland Food and

Drink Association) since its inception, Billy has

taken an interest in protecting the overall health of

the food industry in Northern Ireland. He has a

wide number of commitments in this area and is a

member of the NIFDA Board and Chairman of the

Poultry Federation.

Despite his busy work-life Billy O’Kane has a

passion for local sport and is an active member of

Ballymena Rugby Football Club. In keeping with

the company’s high profile in the area the O’Kane

Group is a well-known supporter of local rugby and

has provided on-going sponsorship to Ballymena

RFC for a long number of years.

My family business has been at the core of the

Ballymena local economy for many years. I

believe a strong and diverse local economy is the

key to maintaining employment, income levels

and social cohesion in our community. I see

Seven Towers FM as another pillar that will

further support the development of our

community in years to come.

Billy O’Kane

Noel Shannon

■ Occupation:

Chief Executive and Head of Programming, KFM

■ Background

Noel Shannon is one of the most experienced

commercial radio managers in Ireland. His

involvement in the radio business for the past

fifteen years has enabled him to build up a wealth

of experience in both local and national commercial


A journalist by training, Noel began his career at

the inception of regional radio in Ireland. Serving as

a news and sports reporter at local level for a

number of years, Noel made the move to national

radio when Ireland’s independent national station,

Today FM, was launched in 1997. Noel served as

head of news for Today FM and over five years,

developed Today FM News into a tightly-branded,

high-quality national and international news


In 2002, Noel was one of the key members of the

KFM consortium that won the first local radio

franchise for County Kildare. Having managed

many aspects of the initial development of KFM,

including programming and recruitment, Noel, as

programme director, has led one of the most

successful radio launches in the Irish marketplace.

Noel brings indispensable experience to Seven

Towers FM, particularly in the areas of news, sport

and current affairs programming. We propose to

utilise Noel’s talents and news management skills

in the setting up of Seven Towers FM’s newsroom.

Local news, sport and information are the lifeblood

of local radio - in Ballymena these

elements will differentiate Seven Towers FM from

existing services. Having worked extensively in

both national and local radio I understand the

differences between these formats. At a local

level people want a station that is close to them,

that gives them a voice and tells them what is

going on in their community. As a programme

director in a local commercial station, I know that

it is possible to deliver high quality local

programming in relatively small franchise areas

and Seven Towers FM is more than capable of

achieving this in Ballymena.

Noel Shannon

(ii) Future Directors

Ballymena Broadcasting has no plans to appoint

any further directors to the board.



1. Ownership and control of company which will operate the licence

(b) Proposed Investors and Shareholding Structure

(i) Names (see below) and addresses of each

shareholder: See appendix (c)

(ii) and (iii) Shareholding Details:

Ballymena Broadcasting Ltd will be funded through

equity. The share capital of the company consists

of 200,000 shares at 1p. One hundred thousand

shares at 1p will be issued. 63% of shareholding

will be issued at a premium of £2,062.5 per


(ii) and (iii) Shareholding Details:

Shareholder % No. of Ordinary Price of Funding

Shareholding Shares Issued at 1p Subscription Shares (£) Proportion

Alpha Newspaper Group 22% 22,000 £453,968 34.9%

Irish News Ltd 16% 16,000 £330,158 25.4%

Jas Mooney 10% 10,000 £206,349 15.9%

Sam Morrisson 10% 10,000 £206,349 15.9%

Billy O’Kane 5% 5,000 £103,174 7.9%

David Humphreys 2% 2,000 £20.00 n/a

Paul Kavanagh 4% 4,000 £40.00 n/a

Tim Collins 12.5% 12,400 £124.00 n/a

Padraig O’Dwyer 12.5% 12,400 £124.00 n/a

Noel Shannon 6% 6,000 £60.00 n/a



1. Ownership and control of company which will operate the licence

(b) Proposed Investors and Shareholding Structure & (c) Involvement in Specified Activities

(iv) Outline any share agreements or arrangements

Our shareholders’ agreement covers standard

matters governing management of the company

and reserved issues; board composition; funding

procedures; deadlock procedures; pre-emption

rights and other shareholder protections based on

change of control; conduct of the business and

agreement that services provided by shareholders

will be at an arm’s length basis on fair commercial


The agreement which has been agreed by all

shareholders is included at appendix (d).

(v) Details of any corporate body providing more than

30% of required funding

Alpha Newspaper Group will provide 34.9% of the

required funding. Alpha Newspaper Group is the

trading name of Tontine Rooms Holding Company


The Directors and Shareholders of Tontine

Rooms Holding Company are:

Lord Kilclooney

(John D. Taylor) 2,228 shares

Mary F. Taylor 1,238 shares

Robert W. Todd 1,980 shares

Edmund R. Curran 1,238 shares

Total 6,684 shares

(c) Involvement in specified activities

■ Alpha Newspaper Group / John Taylor

Company Activity Shareholding

Alpha Newspaper Group Newspaper Publishing 100%

(51% JohnTaylor)

■ The Irish News / Dominic FitzPatrick

Company Activity Shareholding

The Irish News Ltd. Newspaper Publishing 100%

(12.5% Dominic Fitzpatrick)

■ Padraig O’Dwyer

Company Activity Shareholding

Kildare Broadcasting Ltd, t/a KFM Local Commercial Radio licensee, 15%

Co. Kildare, Ireland

Northwest Broadcasting Ltd. Local Commercial Radio licensee, 15.92%

t/a Ocean FM north-west Ireland

Star Fm Local Commercial Radio licensee, 3%

Dublin, Ireland

■ Tim Collins

Company Activity Shareholding

Northwest Broadcasting Ltd. Local Commercial Radio licensee, 10.61%

t/a Ocean FM north-west Ireland

■ Paul Kavanagh

Company Activity Shareholding

Phantom FM, Local Commercial Radio licensee, 14%

t/a Dublin Rock Radio Dublin, Ireland



105 (A)


2. Financial and Business Plan

A new local station is a good idea. I think that there is room for an

additional local advertising service to cover this area and I would be

willing to advertise on it once it was up and running.

Philip Glennie, AH Erwin

2. Financial and business plan

(a) Overall Financial Strategy

(a) Overall financial strategy


Ballymena Broadcasting Ltd was established with

one objective in mind, to establish a new, fully

local, radio service targeted at the entire 15 plus

population of Ballymena and the surrounding area.

Our shareholders are united in the belief that local

radio broadcasting in Northern Ireland has

underperformed, particularly in terms of listenership

(we define both Cool FM and Downtown as

regional stations). Compared to ‘best of breed’

stations in mainland UK and the Republic of

Ireland, local stations in Northern Ireland would

seem to have failed to capture the imagination and

support of local communities across the province.

The reasons why this is so are complex but we

believe are founded on programme schedules and

music policies that do not appeal to a broad

enough audience. This runs counter to the

"something for everyone" philosophy which is the

basis of the success of local radio in other parts of

the UK and in the south.

Our group, comprised of Northern Ireland’s leading

newspaper groups, business people with a track

record of success and the leading local radio

broadcasters on the island believe there is an

opportunity to build a new force in local radio in

Northern Ireland.

With the support of Ofcom, our objective is to

establish a number of high performing local radio

stations across the province that will match the

best in the UK and Ireland.

A vision based on reality

We are strongly of the view that if Ballymena’s new

local station is to become a commercial success

and make a difference to Ballymena it must

become a key part of the radio listening day for

most Ballymena adults. To this end, a target reach

of 45% is the minimum necessary for success.

Radio listeners in the Ballymena TSA currently tune

in to Downtown, Cool FM, Radio One, Radio Two

and Radio Ulster. There is no local station in the

area and neighbouring local services do not attract

any significant support.

For comparison, we have looked at two reference


■ Radio Pembrokeshire and;

■ WLR in Ireland.

Radio Pembrokeshire competes with a wide range

of national and regional stations including BBC

Radio 1 (Reach 23.8%), BBC radio 2 (Reach

28%), BBC Radio 4 (Reach 10.7%), BBC Radio

Wales (Reach 13.7), BBC Radio Cymru (Reach

11.5%) and Real Radio (Reach 9.7%). In

December 2004 Radio Pembrokeshire had a

weekly reach of 64%.

Radio Pembrokeshire represents the essence of

popular, commercially successful local radio in the

UK. It broadcasts the services and content that its

listeners demand. It covers a largely rural area with

a TSA of approx. 90,000 people in the 15 plus age


Waterford Local Radio (WLR) competes with

national stations including RTE Radio One (Reach

25%), RTE 2FM (Reach 26%), Today FM (Reach

15%) and regional station Beat FM (Reach 19%)

as well as other local stations bordering on its

franchise area. In 2004 WLR had a reach of 51%.

WLR broadcasts a mix of local news, current

affairs, sports and special interest programming

aimed at a 30 plus audience. It covers a

population of 84,000 (15 plus) and is one of the

most commercially successful local stations in


We believe the above reference stations (and not

local stations elsewhere in NI) represent a realistic

benchmark for Ballymena’s new local station. In

fact, anything less than this benchmark will be a

missed opportunity both for Ofcom and for




2. Financial and business plan

(a) Overall Financial Strategy

Critical success factors for Seven Towers FM

■ Localness

■ Strong listnership

■ Commercial success


Our comprehensive market research has demonstrated

a strong demand for local news and current affairs,

local sports coverage and analysis, traffic and weather

updates and a range of special interest programming.

This content is not presently being provided by any of

the existing regional/national services heard in the area

and providing local content will help to grow overall

radio listenership in the area.

In our experience of programming two successful new

local radio stations in the past year, localness is

comprised of two elements: relevant content and

familiar voices.

Our content will be relevant to the community in

Ballymena and its hinterland. It will relate to all

aspects of life in the area from hard news and sporting

achievements to what’s happening in all corners of the

franchise area. So whether it’s our free community

notice board or even our obituaries service, Seven

Towers FM will be a must if you want know what’s

happening locally.

Our phone-in programmes will be welcoming and

familiar places for local people to air their views on the

issues of the day. Where national and regional radio is,

by its nature, remote from local audiences, Seven

Towers FM will be distinguished by its accessability

and the familiarity of its presenters.

Our music output will be specifically tailored to meet

the tastes of our target audience and segmented to suit

their listening patterns. Our market research will be

supplemented by Auditorium Music Tests to fine tune

our play-list before we go on air so that our music

content is chosen by the people who will listen to the


The Ballymena Guardian is widely recognised as the

most successful local newspaper in Northern Ireland. It

is a must-read for anyone in Ballymena who wants to

keep up with what is happening in their local

community. When it comes to local content we will be

the radio equivalent of a leading local newspaper.

Localness is the key to driving listnership and our

association with the Alpha Group ensures we can

deliver a "super local" station at a reasonable cost.

Strong listenership

Without a critical mass of listeners, Ballymena’s new

local radio station will be irrelevant. To this end, we

will appeal to all adults in our TSA. By targeting our

programming at different age segments at their peak

listening times we will maximise listnership across all

age and demographic groups and at all times during

the listening day.

Our aim is to become an essential part of the fabric of

the community of Ballymena. Any time an event in our

TSA is being planned, we will be involved. This will

range from commentary and analysis of a Ballymena

United soccer match, a Dunloy club Gaelic football

match or a Ballymena RFC game to lending the

support of our outside broadcast unit to a local charity

event or an agricultural fair.

We will achieve this through regular contact with all

the community and sporting organisations in our TSA.

On being awarded the licence we will organise a series

of public information meetings to inform all parts of the

community about the station, our programme

schedule, our editorial policies and how we hope to

work with them to ensure that Seven Towers FM is the

best local station in the province.



2. Financial and business plan

(b) Funding & (c) Financial Projections

Our marketing plan will be well resourced and

innovative ensuring that everyone in our TSA knows

our frequency and has the opportunity to tune in. We

will invest in a strong presence at key events as a

means of driving strong reach figures in our early

months on air. Our premises, at a high profile location

in Ballymena, will be critical to creating brand

presence and listener loyalty.

Our music will be fine tuned and specifically tailored to

drive high listening hours and market share.

Commercial success

High quality local content driving strong reach and

market share, in turn drives strong revenue which

helps to provide the resources necessary for high

quality content. That is the model at its most simple.

However, strong advertising revenue is perhaps the

most challenging part of the equation.

It’s also where our group excels. The resources,

experience and co-operation of the Ballymena

Guardian together with the sales nous and experience

of the two most successful recent start ups on the

island will give Seven Towers FM the head start it


In our financial appendix we have included headline

figures for Ocean FM’s first six months of trading where

the station has exceeded all budgetary targets and

market forecasts. Critical to the success of Ocean FM

has been our ability to grow the radio advertising

market through the use of innovative sales and

marketing strategies.

Our strong revenue raising capability coupled with our

ability to carefully manage costs will ensure the early

and continued commercial success of Seven Towers


(b) Funding

i) Share capital £1,300,000

ii) Loan stock -

iii) Leasing / HP facilities -

iv) Bank overdraft see appendix (e)

v) Grants and donations -

vi) Other

(c) Financial projections

Economic overview

Ballymena town lies at the heart of our TSA and is

the main service centre in the North East of the

Province. Ballymena grew up as a market town

serving the booming flax industry in the area and is

now a prosperous urban hub driven by its diverse

retail offer.

Ballymena town serves a wide hinterland bounded

to the North by the Antrim Coast and Giant’s

Causeway, to the east by Slemish Mountain and

the Antrim Glens, to the west by the River Bann

and to the south by Lough Neagh. This area

encompasses some of the richest farming land in

Northern Ireland, with the consequence that

traditional farming, agri-business and food related

industries are thriving in the area (Dale Farm

Dairies employ over 2,000 people in Ballymena

and O’Kane Poultry a further 1,000). Ballymena

also has a strong manufacturing base and big

employers, such as Michellin Tyres and Wrights

coach manufacturers, remain committed to the


At the centre of our TSA, Ballymena is the regional

administrative centre for many public bodies such

as the Education and Library Board, Health and

Social Services and a number of Government

Departments. These lead to a high level of public

sector employment and a stability that will be

important to our station. The streets of Ballymena

have an air of continuous bustle and confidence

and the Acorn socio-economic profile (2003) for

Ballymena and its surroundings reveals a

prosperous area comprised of vibrant, healthy

communities. We have a higher than average



2. Financial and business plan

(c) Financial Projections

number of people in the thriving and affluent grey

categories, a higher than average number of

villages with wealthy workers and communities with

good communications links and fewer

council/housing executive property in areas of high

unemployment than the rest of Northern Ireland.

Our service area is easily accessible from other

population centres in Northern Ireland. Ballymena

is directly linked to Belfast city by the M2, is only

18 miles from the province’s international airport

and only 30 miles for Belfast City Airport. We are

well served by public transport with a stop on the

main Northern Ireland rail line between Belfast and

Derry and a good network of bus routes. The town

also benefits from its proximity to Northern Ireland’s

main ports – Larne and Belfast.

Ballymena’s shopping facilities attract people from

a wide catchment area. Our town ranks in the top

three in Northern Ireland in a number of national

retail ranking indices. It provides a unique mix of

old and new. On one hand Ballymena is a market

town hosting a traditional market each Saturday,

with a healthy mix of small, local, independent

traders and on the other has a strong

representation of national high-street retailers such

as Next, HMV, Marks & Spencer and Boots.

Retailers recognise the economic strength of the

area and their confidence is reflected in high retail

yields in the town and an increase of 78% on city

centre retail rents since 1995. Demand for

additional retail space in the town is currently

estimated at 500,000 square feet. Debenhams, TK

Maxx and B&Q are anchor tenants for three new

retail developments planned, or under construction,

in the town.

Ballymena is one of the most affluent parts of

Northern Ireland outside Belfast city. Our area’s

prosperity is built on natural advantages, including

rich farming land, central location and an

industrious, hard working population. 66% of

people are economically active compared to 62%

across Northern Ireland as a whole and 79% of

these are in permanent employment compared to

the Northern Ireland average of 70%. Ballymena

has only 3% unemployment. We have a third level

institution, The North East Institute, that will

continue to attract young people to the area. The

student population is currently pushing towards


The breadth of economic activity that contributes to

its success is striking – Ballymena does not rely on

any single economic sector and this is a long-term

strength. Of these sectors retail is the most

important and the town has successfully combined

a traditional retail core with a diverse range of new


All of these factors bode well for Seven Towers FM

as a local commercial station – they point to an

affluent listening audience and a wide-ranging

potential advertising pool.



2. Financial and business plan

(c) Financial Projections

The Media Market

In the context of the overall media market in Northern

Ireland, Ballymena is a small but robust local market.

The Northern Ireland advertising market is estimated to

be worth some £163m with the local market in

Ballymena being responsible for approx. £3.6m at

present (excluding regional media such as Cool

FM/Downtown or UTV) - see Lyle Bailie analysis at

appendix (f)

This is divided among the

following local media

Press: £2,660,000

Outdoor: £663,560

Cinema: £158,000

Sponsorships: £140,000

The Ballymena Guardian with a circulation of 16,536

per week is, by some considerable margin, the most

successful of the local newspapers in circulation.

Our market research looked at reach figures for all of

the radio stations heard in the area.

The following are the only stations with significant


Listened yesterday Ballymena TSA

(February 2005: Interactions data)

Station Listened Yesterday (Adults)

Downtown 16%

Cool FM 30%

Radio Ulster 18%

BBC Radio 1 31%

BBC Radio 2 8%

The radio market in Northern Ireland is worth approx.

£11.9m gross (direct and agency). With demand

outstripping supply in the television market radio

revenues are likely to grow in the coming years. TV

inflation will drive advertisers to other media and radio

stations that can demonstrate good reach will benefit

from this.

We surveyed 60 top local advertisers (see appendix

(h)) and found a low level of usage of radio advertising

at just 16% compared to 77% for local newspapers.

Among those who do not currently use radio, 47%

(rising to 59% among retailers) said they would

consider advertising on radio.

There was a low level of awareness of the new licence

but very strong support for the new local station. 68%

of the sample said they would advertise on a well

performing local station and among the services sector,

where radio advertising is low at present, 31% said

they would spend additional money on advertising if a

new local station was available.

In this context we are confident that our anticipated

share of the projected 2006 Northern Ireland radio

advertising market, at just 6%, is reasonable and


Seven Towers FM approach to building listnership

and driving advertising sales

Our financial projections at appendix (g) show in detail

how we will reach and maintain projected revenue

levels as well as manage costs. All our underlying

assumptions are derived from the facts set out in this

application and are conservative and realistic.

However, building a successful local radio station

where previously there was none is not a challenge

that should be taken lightly. There are two key areas of

expertise that must come to the fore if financial viability

and commercial success are to be guaranteed.

These are cutting edge marketing and sales:


Marketing and brand development are essential to the

commercial success of any local radio station and will

be core to the Seven Towers FM business strategy. To

this end we have set aside a significant portion of our

expenditure for marketing - we will allocate £50,000

to pre-launch marketing and spend in year one will

reach £50,000.

A Local Brand

Much of our marketing spend in year one will

concentrate on creating a strong brand for the station

in Ballymena town and its hinterland. The defining

quality of Seven Towers FM will be its localism - our

audience has clearly indicated that this is what they

want from a new station. Therefore we will build a



2. Financial and business plan

(c) Financial Projections

brand in Ballymena that not only achieves instant

recognition but that stands for trust and a sense of

community. From the outset the station will use public

relations, advertising and appropriate guerrilla

marketing to achieve profile in the area and support its



The station will be launched via a high impact,highly

visible marketing campaign incorporating outdoor,

newspaper and TV advertising, on-street promotions

and high profile competitions.

While our programming will be of broad appeal from

day one, we will phase our marketing campaign to

target early adopters first.

Partnership with the Ballymena Guardian

The Ballymena Guardian and the Antrim Guardian

both have high circulation in the proposed Ballymena

TSA. The Ballymoney Chronicle (also owned by Alpha

Newspaper Group) is also in circulation in the area.

We have agreed a joint marketing programme with the

Alpha Group worth £400,000 over 5 years to Seven

Towers FM that will generate and sustain a very

significant brand presence for the station and further

underpin its commercial viability (this is in addition to

our main marketing budget).

On the Street

Ballymena has never had a truly local station before.

With the advent of Seven Towers FM, local radio will

be impossible to ignore. The station’s high profile

cruisers and Outside Broadcast Unit will be on the

beat, maintaining a significant street presence for the

station while also supporting and adding flavour to

local events. Our high-profile studio locations will also

add to our street presence. Mobility and visibility will

be important if the station is to really knit into the local

fabric and become an integral part of community

activity and local events.

Local Events

One of our key strategies for extending reach will be a

series of Seven Towers FM special events devised in

cooperation with local groups. These events will

become much-anticipated features in the local

calendar and will further strengthen involvement

of the community with the station.

The Seven Towers FM Big Day Out

Seven Towers FM aims to host a summer festival in partnership with Ballymena

Borough Council and the Chamber of Commerce once a year. The Seven Towers

FM Big Day Out will be a day of family entertainment featuring music and comedy

from established stars and up-and-coming locals alike. The day will provide

something for everyone from face-painting and games for children to relaxation and

music for adults. The mood and nature of the day will reflect the desire of the

station to appeal to and serve the whole community.

Seven Towers FM Sports Awards

Throughout the sporting year Seven Towers FM will exhort listeners to keep their

short-list of sporting glories in mind in order to select Antrim’s sports star of the

year, sports team of the year and sporting moment of the year. By text, email and

post listeners will have the opportunity to nominate their favourite from the Seven

Towers FM Sporting Hit-list. The winners will be honoured at a major event

involving all local sporting organisations.


Ballymena has a well-established Festival of Music, Speech and Dance which

generates a real sense of occasion in the town. Throughout the week of the festival

Seven Towers FM will give it support giving airtime to the best acts and

broadcasting from key events. Recognising this dramatic tradition Seven Towers FM

will instigate, together with local theatre groups and schools, an annual radio drama

award. The award will be sponsored by the radio station and the winning piece will

be broadcast on Seven Towers FM.



2. Financial and business plan

(c) Financial Projections


Part of the appeal of local radio for listeners is its

immediacy. Our accessible, easy to use website will

complement the station being the first with local news,

information and entertainment and will offer on-line

streaming for those Ballymena ex-pats looking to keep

up with what’s going on in their home place. The web

will be an integral part of the station’s offering hosting

on-line surveys and delivering another platform for

competitions and listener interaction. It will also host

our “Listener Panel” which will identify the most

popular current songs for our playlist.


Advertising revenue will be maximised through the use

of a well-trained, customer-focussed, local sales team

that has the ability to cater equally to the needs of

sophisticated agency clients as to those of a small local


The strength of Seven Towers FM’s sales strategy will

be its consultancy led approach. Our sales team will

provide the full range of services required by

advertisers - tailoring packages to pin-point specific

audiences, maximising exposure and achieving best

return from smaller budgets. The station will also round

its offer by providing copywriting and media planning

advice to clients, a service currently available to less

than 15% of advertisers on the commercial stations

available in Ballymena.

As well as direct advertising, the station will offer

innovative promotions and sponsorship products. Our

on-street promotions team and Seven Tower Cruisers

will offer a range of options previously out of reach to

advertisers in the area. On average, UK stations

generate 13% of revenue from sponsorship and

promotions. Strikingly the corresponding figure in

Northern Ireland is a mere 6%. Evidence from small,

local stations in the Republic of Ireland indicates that it

is possible to push this figure to almost 25%.

National and Agency Sales

Although we expect that the lion’s share of our

advertising revenue will be generated locally we will

not neglect agency sales. Designated members of our

sales team will liaise with the Northern Ireland

agencies and ensure that Seven Towers FM secures it’s

fair share of agency revenue. Seven Towers FM will be

represented in the UK by First Radio and IRS

(Independent Radio Sales) will represent us in

southern Ireland.

Projections for the first 5 years of operation are to be

found in Appendix (g). These include:

(i) Profit and loss accounts

(ii) Balance sheets

(iii) Cash flow forecasts

Full guidance notes including underlying assumptions,

how revenue figures are derived, local and national

revenue streams accompany these detailed projections.



2. Financial and business plan

(d) Audience Projections

(d) Audience projections

(i) Projected 15+ population

In advertising the new FM commercial radio licence

for Ballymena Ofcom has estimated that the adult

population of the area covered by the licence could

be around 56,000 (living within a radius of 15


Section 2.5 of the advertisement indicated that

coverage may extend as far as Cloughmills and

Dunloy to the north, Broughshane and the Braid

River valley to the east, Kells and Antrim to the

south and Portglenone and Kilrea to the west. All of

these villages lie within a 20km radius of

Ballymena Town centre. The 15 plus population

within this radius is approx. 87,500 (Ref: CACI –

Appendix (h)).

Early indications from our broadcast engineers are

that some but not all of this additional audience

will be covered. For the purposes of this application

we believe the adult audience will be at least


Ballymena 20 Kilometre radius





The Loup





New Ferry




















20 KM Radius

Scale: 1 : 225,000

©Crown copyright.

©All rights reserved. Licence No. 399221

©AA 2004. All rights reserved

©Automobile Association

©CACI Limited, 2005

15 February, 2005





2. Financial and business plan

(d) Audience Projections

(ii) Projected listnership ratings

We have taken a conservative approach to our TSA

population figure, our projected reach and average

hours and regard these figures as a minimum.

Our research indicates a definitely listen/give it a try

level of 72% of this adult population.

Our figures have been factored down to take into

account overstatement of intention to listen and

represent, in our first year, just a third of those who

said they would definitely listen or give it a try. This

figure rises in year three to just 60% of the research


When account is taken of our core/early adopter 30-

59 audience where definitely listen/give it a try rises

to 83%, these projections are indeed conservative.

While we anticipate stronger listnership in the 30-59

age segment, our policy is to attract listeners from all

age segments through careful segmentation of our

programme schedule. We have devised our

programme schedule to attract both male and female

listeners in equal numbers. While our daytime

schedule may attract greater numbers of female

listeners, this will be balanced by our sports output

at weekends. Our research indicates somewhat

stronger listenership in the C2DE social group and

this reflects the make up of audiences in most local

radio stations.

(ii) Projected listnership ratings

TSA population % Reach Reach Avg.hours Total hours

000’s 000’s 000’s

Year 1 65 25 16 9 146

Year 2 65 35 23 10.5 239

Year 3 65 45 29 12 351

(iii) Expected impact on existing services: Source of listening year 1

Total Hours New listening From BBC ILR

000’s 30% of total hours 40% of transferred hours 30% of transferred hours

146 44 58 44



2. Financial and business plan

(d) Audience Projections

(iv) Basis of above including assumptions

We believe our core audience will be within the

30-59 year age group and our early adopters will

be driven by a desire for localness. Because the

Seven Towers FM service will be completely new to

the Ballymena area, in that none of the existing

services have an appreciable level of local

Ballymena content, we anticipate that up to 30%

of our total listening hours will be new listening.

The desire for localness begins to rise from the age

of 25-30 upwards and for this reason we believe

Seven Towers FM will impact less on Cool FM and

BBC Radio 1 as both stations have a younger age


Our research shows that Cool FM and Radio 1

listeners are less likely to listen to the new station.

Listeners to Downtown, Radio Ulster and Radio 2

are more likely. However, given the total hours

projected for Seven Towers FM in its first three

years of operation, the impact on the total listening

hours on the above mentioned regional and

national services will be negligible. For example,

even if all our projected transferred hours from ILR

came from Downtown, this would represent less

than 2% of Downtown’s total hours.

Definitely / give it a try

Cool FM Radio 1 Downtown Radio Ulster Radio 2

71 60 94 85 79

Definitely/give it a try shows that Downtown, Radio Ulster and Radio 2 listeners are more likely to try the new

local station. This is further emphasised when we subtract waits and unlikelys from the above.

Definitely / give it a try

minus wait / unlikely

Cool FM Radio 1 Downtown Radio Ulster Radio 2

43 23 88 72 58



Application for ILR Licence for Ballymena

105 (A)


3. Transmission proposals

Ballymena needs a local radio station that both serves and reflects

the local community……….I am encouraged to learn that this bid

is focussing on providing a community-based service with an

emphasis on local issues and balanced coverage.

Rosalind Lowry, Arts and Development Officer,

Ballymena Borough Council

3. Transmission proposals

3. Transmission proposals

(i) Provide details of the transmission site you

propose to use, under the following headings:

(a) Name and National Grid Reference of site;

Courtney Farm, Tully

NGR D0088602899

Lat /Long 54N51’49" 6W25’43"

(b) Height of site above Ordnance datum (in metres);


(c ) Height of transmitting aerial above ground level

(in metres);


(d) Radiated power in either or both planes of

polarisation, and aerial radiation pattern (if no

aerial radiation pattern is submitted, it will be

assumed without exception to be omnidirectional).

500 watts e.r.p. vertical polarization only

Normalised Antenna radiation patterns as follows:

2 x 4 element yagi stacked array beaming at 50


The choice of site and antenna pattern shown

above allows a good signal (better than 75 dBuv)

to be received in Ballymena, as well as

Broughshane, the Braid River area, Kells and

Antrim, while minimizing reception in the areas

that are mentioned in Section 2 namely

Ballymoney, Carnlough and Larne.

The signal in parts of Cloughmills and all of

Dunloy is marginal, however, but the constraints of

the local topography, coupled with available

existing masts means that it seems to offer the

best practical compromise.

There is some signal present in Magherafelt and

Maghera, but it is predicted to be below 54 dBuV

at a receiver height of ten metres, and so in

practice will not be significant.

The applicant should confirm whether he believes

that his intended mast aperture will be available,

and whether, where required, planning permission

can be obtained.

Where appropriate, evidence to support this belief

should be provided. Details of any negotiations

which have been entered into with the site owner

should also be provided.

The cellular phone company Orange have in

principal offered site sharing facilities at this site.

(See Appendix i)

They have an existing 21m mast with full planning

permission. It would be necessary to install an

additional small cabin (approx 2 x 2m) and

antennas as described. For this reason there will be

a need to apply for planning permission, although

due to the existence of three masts and associated

buildings at the site, this is not expected to cause

undue problems or delay.



3. Transmission proposals

(ii) Please provide a detailed computer predicted map

(in colour) of the coverage anticipated using the

transmission site and parameters described above.

(iii) Describe proposed arrangements for transmission

provision (installation, maintenance and repair).

Total Broadcast Consultants have the necessary

resources and experience to install, monitor, and

maintain the complete transmission system and

associated telemetry systems. The company has 24

hour monitoring facilities and skilled staff and spare

parts resources at their disposal to ensure any

problems are quickly resolved.

It is planned to use a 100watt Eddystone /SBS

transmitter in dual standby configuration, feeding a

triple cavity bandpass filter. It would be monitored

by Davicom MAC telemetry equipment. An

uncompressed 2 Mb Moseley digital 1.4 GHZ

Microwave STL would be utilized for programme

delivery to the site, with ISDN and leased line

APT-X compressed codecs for back up. Deviation

limiting and audio processing will be controlled by

an Orban Optimod 8500 at the studio, an Orban

8218 digital stereo coder which incorporates its

own peak limiter will be located at the transmission


(iv) What is the anticipated time-lapse between the

award of licence and start of broadcasting?

We will be ready to commence broadcasting within

eight months of being awarded the licence, subject

to planning permission being awarded.

DAB Digital Radio

Seven Towers FM is committed to securing carraige

on a relevant local DAB Digital Multiplex. However

we understand that capacity is, at present,

extremely limited on the Score Multiplex.



Application for ILR Licence for Ballymena

105 (B)and(C)

105 (B) and (C): Catering for Tastes and Interests/Broadening Choice

4. Programme philosophy

I’d like to hear about the town on a new station and to hear local

people putting their views across. I think it should be about

Ballymena having a choice, having a say.

Ballymena Radio Listener

4. Programme Philosophy

(i) Overall Programme Philosophy & (ii) Programme Strategies

4. Programme philosophy

(i) Overall programme philosophy

Our philosophy is a simple one and is directly

related to the critical success factors mentioned

earlier in this application.

It is to serve the requirements of the entire adult

population in our proposed TSA for local content -

be that information (including news, current affairs,

traffic, weather, events or sport) or entertainment

including music, entertainment news and local


While our research tells us that demand for local

content is strongest among the 30-59 age

segment, we believe that our success will be based

on a philosophy of universal coverage. Our

programming will be segmented so that every

person aged 15 and over will find programming

that appeals to their particular tastes and interests.

For example, older listeners may be more interested

in our daytime and special interest programming

while those aged 15-25 years will tune in to our

Chart Blitz programme at night. We will broaden

choice across our entire schedule by being local.

So whether it’s a local issue being debated on

Ballymena To-day or simply a group of A-level

students texting requests to our Chart Blitz spot,

Seven Towers FM will be at the centre of a circle of

listeners that is united by a distinct local identity.

Our research and our discussions to date with local

groups have given us a good insight into the tastes

and interests of our potential audience and our

programme schedule and music policy have been

designed to reflect this.

We are committed to building on this research to

ensure that Seven Towers FM accurately reflects the

tastes of its listeners far beyond our launch date. On

being awarded the licence and before launch we will

organise an Auditorium Music Test (conducted by Paul

Kavanagh) where we will test up to 800 songs and

fine tune our play list. This exercise will be repeated

every 2 years.

For new music we will supplement our Auditorium

Music Test with our web based listener panel on an

ongoing basis.

For non-music programming we will hold a once yearly

forum for listeners and special interest groups where

the full programme schedule is reviewed.

At the heart of our programme philosophy is our belief

that Seven Towers FM must become part of the fabric

of our community. At the risk of sounding maudlin,

this can only happen if our station cares about the

community around it and our community embraces all

the possibilities created by a strong, truly local radio


While our area already has a strong sense of its own

identity, Seven Towers FM will further energise a sense

of belonging and connection to Ballymena and its


(ii) Strategies to cater for tastes and interests,

broaden the range of commercial services and

provide local material including programming.


Localism and inclusiveness are the threads running

through every element of the Seven Towers FM

service. Our station will be programmed to respond

to the unique needs and interests of the people of

Ballymena and will reach into the community

inviting listener involvement. We will do so by

delivering local content that is not available

elsewhere, by providing an open platform for local

voices and integrating with the local community.

Part of the Community

We have not cited the principle of community

involvement merely to create a fuzzy, feel-good

factor – it is our key programming strategy and is a

key requirement of our listener base.

■ 71% of people in Ballymena want a station that is

influenced by local people

■ 68% think that it is important that any new station

in Ballymena has high visibility in the community

■ 53% would like to hear charity programmes on

their new local station

■ 61% would like to listen to documentaries on local

people and events

■ 78% think that it is important that a new station is

accessible, implying that current service providers

in the area are not



4. Programme Philosophy

(ii) Programme Strategies

Seven Towers FM will mirror life in Ballymena and Mid

Antrim. Local issues and concerns will set our agenda

and Ballymena people will feel a sense of ownership

and partnership with the station. We will amplify local

discussion and provide an open and welcoming setting

in which local people can have their opinions heard.

To create this partnership the station will provide

opportunities for local community groups, politicians,

activists and business people to air their views and

encourage participation from listeners by addressing

issues that lie at the heart of our community. A

number of our main day-time programmes will be built

around listener participation. These programming

elements evoked high responses in research with 66%

in favour of local competitions and 58% wanting

phone-in chats and debates.

With our two cruisers and Outside Broadcast Unit

Seven Towers FM will have a strong physical presence

in Ballymena. Our street team will travel to events

throughout our TSA to bring listeners at home the latest

news and views. Our research showed a strong

demand for this kind of involvement with 66%

responding favourably to the idea of live interviews at

local events. By getting out and about in the

community and putting these mobile resources at the

disposal of local organisations and businesses we will

be at the centre of all that is happening locally.

Roadshows and outdoor promotions are extremely

popular in Ballymena and Antrim with 72% giving a

positive response to the idea - emphasising the fact

that provincial services do not currently provide this


Our stations in the Northwest and in Kildare have a

commitment to working with local charities that goes

beyond commercial self interest. This commitment is

driven by the shareholders of each of the stations and

a philosophy of giving. This philosophy is highly valued

by listeners in Ballymena and Seven Towers FM will

actively pursue partnerships with local charities and

community organisations.

News and Current Affairs

■ Ballymena area news elicited one of the strongest

responses in research with 76% of all adults saying

that they would like to listen, rising to 89% in the

30-59 age-group

■ 48% of over 15’s in Ballymena want more local


■ 44% are strongly in favour of hearing local council


■ 33% would listen to programmes featuring local

politics with this figure increasing to 58% among

those between the ages of 30 and 59

The local news bulletin will be the primary vehicle for

delivering local content. Our local bulletins will be

broadcast hourly throughout the day from 7am to 7pm

weekdays, from 8am to 6pm Saturday and from 9am

to 6pm Sunday. During peak time morning programme

bulletins will be broadcast every half-hour. Our flagship

morning current affairs programme, Ballymena To-day

will look at these local news stories in more depth and

give analysis of the political and economic events that

most affect people living in Ballymena.

Where regional or national news is a subject for

discussion the focus will be on how these events will

impact at a local level. By airing local issues, reporting

on the events in the district court or what is happening

in the Ballymena or Antrim Borough Councils, our

news and current affairs programmes will cater to a

currently unserved demand among people in the area

to hear more about the issues and events that impact

on them locally. Our approach will at all times be fair

and balanced, guaranteeing a right of reply and a

measured approach to sensitive issues.

We will employ a full time Head of News and Sport

and two other fulltime news and sports reporters. We

have also made provision in our budget for a range of

part time news and sports staff who will be

supplemented by Ballymena Guardian staff where


Our key competitive advantage in the provision of

quality local news and sports coverage is our

association with the Alpha Group and the Irish News.

We will have access to the newsroom at the Ballymena

Guardian and the Antrim Guardian as well as regional

offices at Ballymoney, Ballycastle, Larne, Carrickfergus

and Ballyclare that will feed in Ballymena related news

and sports content. Journalists from the Irish News will

also contribute where appropriate.


Sport will be a key part of our schedule.

■ 27% of over 15’s want more local sport from a new

station however among male respondents this figure

reached 40%

■ 58% of men would like to hear programming on

team sports and 49% want programming on

individual sports

■ Sports analysis appeals to 40% of potential


■ 48% are interested in sports news

■ 49% want to listen to local sports and real time


Nothing unites and energises local communities in

quite the same way as sport. The Ballymena area has a

rich sporting life, the full variety of which will be

reflected in Seven Towers FM programming. Although

this programming appeals more to men than women,



4. Programme Philosophy

(ii) Programme Strategies

we believe that the varied and local focus of our sports

programming will cater to the widest possible


Sports will be a mainstay of the weekend schedule at

the station and coverage will range from rivalries and

achievements at local and schools level, updates and

reports on the progress of local sporting figures, to

analysis and live coverage of matches involving local

clubs. Soccer, rugby and GAA have large followings in

Ballymena and we have already received strong

support from the key local clubs for live commentary

and reporting of their matches (see Evidence of

Support). However we will also turn our attention to

other ‘minority’ sports whose local popularity is not

reflected in coverage on other stations – basketball,

athletics, motor-sport and boxing being good examples.

Our coverage will benefit from partnerships with the

activists and PROs of local sports clubs and

organisations. Their contribution will ensure that, from

the smallest to the largest, no element of local sporting

action, or local view, is overlooked. In this way our

sports coverage will complement that offered on

existing services - providing information that is not

available through other services, prioritising local action

and bringing a sense of importance to local sport at all


Local Information

There is universal demand for local information from a

new station:

■ 82% over 15s would like to hear local weather


■ 82% want local traffic updates from a new service

■ Local entertainment information appeals to 69% of

potential listeners

■ 67% are interested in programming on crime

■ Charity programmes appeal to 67% of all adults

Seven Towers FM will be the home of local information

and will become an indispensable part of everyday life

in Ballymena. The station will be the natural choice for

essential information like traffic updates, job

advertisements and what’s on in the locality. There is

also a noticeable engagement among the people of this

area with charity and community concerns. We will

offer a unique platform to them by providing a free

community noticeboard, broadcast twice each day, and

ready promotion of charity information. At the risk of

appearing morbid, we cannot deny that death notices

are essential information to many in a community.

Research from the Republic of Ireland shows that this

element of local radio services is greatly valued by

listeners and is one of the main reasons to tune in.

Obituaries and funeral arrangements will be an integral

part of the local information service.

Lifestyle Focus

We have identified an underserved demand among

local listeners for more lifestyle information.

■ 35% of our potential audience would like to hear

programming dealing with reading and literature

■ Among all over 15’s horticulture and gardening

appealed to 21%

■ 10% are interested in computers and IT

■ 14% are interested in information on animals and


■ 19% would like to hear programming on fitness

In order to cater to this we have threaded lifestyle

features throughout our schedule. Subjects such as

computers, property, gardening, finance, health and

fitness will receive regular attention in programming to

reflect the level of interest expressed by local people.

We will aim to involve local experts and service

providers in these features as much as possible to

bring a truly local feel and to show how lifestyle trends

and needs can be met locally.

Special Interest

■ Health, medical and lifestyle issues are important

to potential listeners with 77% expressing an

interest in programming devoted to this area

■ 37% of those within our service area would like to

hear programming relating to farming

■ 35% would like information on films

■ Programming on education issues appeals to 57%

of potential listeners



4. Programme Philosophy

(ii) Programme Strategies

Every locality has specific preoccupations and interests

that reflect its individual make-up. By combining our

knowledge of Ballymena with the results of listener

research we have selected topics for a half hour special

interest programme each weeknight, which cater to

niche interests in the region.

A desire for information in the areas of film and

entertainment, education and health emerged clearly

from our listener surveys. Farming retains a

fundamental role in the economic life of the area and

deserves special attention in our schedule. In addition,

on Friday evening we will preview the weekend’s local

sporting action and fixtures.


Seven Towers FM will operate in what is traditionally

known as the Bible Belt of Northern Ireland. Religion

forms an important part of the social fabric throughout

this service area.

Ballymena’s seven towers have served as the main

identifier of the town for over a century. Four of these

seven are church spires reflecting the important part

religion plays in the lives of local people. From

Evangelism and Gospel to the Reformed Church,

Presbyterian, Methodist and Catholic, churches

proliferate in Ballymena and Antrim. We propose to

create a consultative body comprising representatives

of these different churches to co-operate on

programming. Sunday morning on Seven Towers FM

will have a religious and spiritual bent and will be a

melting pot of different religions with a local footprint.

The station will broadcast Sunday services from a

different local church each Sunday morning and the

church consultation group will also be used as a

sounding board for incorporating inclusive religious

programming content within our schedule.


■ 87% of potential listeners want to hear local

presenters who speak their mind on a new station.

This stands out as extremely important for local


■ 79% of over 15’s are in favour of local DJs that

relate to the local community

■ 81% of those surveyed believe that DJs and

presenters with local accents are important for a

new station.

If the audience is to feel that Seven Towers FM truly

belongs to their community, then local accents and an

intuitive understanding of the area are pre-requisites

from presenters. Presenters will be on the front line in

building a relationship with the local listeners. It is

important that they (literally and metaphorically!)

‘speak their language’ and embody the unique

personality of the area. Wherever possible we will

cultivate a local sound by employing presenters that

hail from, or are well-known, in the local area. We will

discuss the idea of a part time Radio Academy with the

North East Institute so that local talent can be

developed. In addition, to ensure that our sports and

special interest programming is of the highest quality,

we will organise radio training courses for the PRO’s of

key organisations who regularly interface with the


Local Talent

The station will add to the cultural life of the area by

providing a platform for local talent. 59% of potential

listeners want to hear live music and local bands on

their station. We will be the first to give local

performers a real break. Music showcases,

performance reviews, in-studio interviews and live

performances will be used to search for and promote

local artists.


While the trend in general is away from a "departmental"

approach to music, we believe this is the correct approach

in a community oriented local station such as Seven

Towers FM.

So as many rural towns support department stores where

you can buy everything from a new pair of running shoes

to a bed quilt, Seven Towers FM’s music policy will be

aimed at all of the 15 plus population of our TSA and will

have something for everyone.

Our music during the day will appeal mainly to listeners in

the 30 plus age bracket, some of our special interest music

programmes will appeal mainly to listeners in the 50 plus

age bracket and some to younger listeners in the 15 – 30

age bracket. While this music policy sharply contrasts with

that of Cool FM or Radio 1 it mirrors that of stations such

as Ocean FM and serves to maximise reach.

Our music policy is based on the findings of our detailed

market research. It will be fine tuned before we go on air

through a comprehensive Auditorium Music Test which will

be repeated every 2 years. We will test up to 800 songs

and generate a play list for daytime programming of well

known and loved songs.

Our daytime music will consist mainly of older, more

established songs with an emphasis on music from the

70’s, 80’s, 90’s and early 00’s. A carefully selected

sample of recent songs (no less than 3 months old) will be

spread throughout the playlist.

Current music will be selected by our listeners through an

Internet “Listener Panel” of 50 listeners who will compete

for a £100 record voucher every month as they select their

favorite current songs on our web site.

Our special interest music programming will include

Country, Gospel, Current chart hits, Rock and local music




4. Programme Philosophy

(ii) Programme Strategies

At least 25% of our music output across the schedule

will be Irish in origin (written, performed or recorded by

Irish artists or music by non-Irish artists recorded in


Broadening the range of commercial services available

in the area

(a) Speech Content

The regional commercial services available in

Ballymena at the moment are designed to appeal

to audiences throughout Northern Ireland and do

not provide in-depth local content for Ballymena

and Antrim users. In contrast, Seven Towers FM’s

programme schedule has been drafted with only

these listeners in mind. It will be the only real local

service in the area prioritising local focus in all key

programmes. We have compared the amount of

local content that will be broadcast on Seven

Towers FM to an estimate of that currently

available in Ballymena and its surrounding area

(see right).




Special Interest







Seven Towers FM Cool FM Downtown

Seven Towers FM will broadcast hourly news

bulletins with in-depth local news at 8 am,

10 am, 1pm and 5.45pm. News stories with

specific Ballymena relevance will be prioritised

and will constitute at least 50% of news

content. We will also cover the regional and

national news headlines.

50% Ballymena area news

50% NI, UK and International news

Together with our network of local clubs and

the local newspaper Seven Towers FM will

focus in-depth on Ballymena area sports. We

will provide local sports updates on the hour,

an analysis programme dedicated to sport, and

live commentary at weekends.

50% Ballymena area sports

100% tailor-made for Ballymena - traffic,

travel, weather, entertainment and gigs.

Programmes each weekday to reflect specific

interests of the Ballymena community.


15% current music (less than 18 months) –


All adults (15+) -

we will have universal appeal.

Cool FM’s news content

caters more to younger

listeners. It covers the main

news headlines from the

region and the UK but

focuses on lighter stories.

There is no Ballymena focus.

0% Ballymena area news

100% NI and UK news

Short sports updates

accompany news headlines.

No dedicated sports

programming or Ballymena


0% Ballymena area sports

Northern Ireland traffic,

weather, entertainment and




Over 60% current music

(less than 18 months)


Downtown provides more

detailed news coverage than

Cool FM. News stories focus

on Northern Ireland and the

UK as a whole. There is no

specific focus on Ballymena

in news stories

0% Ballymena area news

100% NI and UK news

Limited Northern Ireland and

UK sports bulletins and

results. No dedicated sports

programming or Ballymena


0% Ballymena area sports

Northern Ireland traffic,

weather, entertainment and


Occasional Northern Ireland

focussed programming


Up to 50% current music

(less than 18 months)

30 +


4. Programme Philosophy

(ii) Programme Strategies

(b) Music Policy

In response to our comprehensive market

research we have devised a music policy which

significantly broadens music choice for Ballymena

listeners. This contrasts strongly with the music

output of other Northern Ireland local stations

(e.g. On 21st February 2005 on Q97.2 58.4%

of the music played was less than 4 years old -

see right).

Music Differences

Music Eras





Last 4 years


(less than 18 months)

Seven Towers FM








The provision of local material

The primary criterion in selecting speech based

programming for Seven Towers FM will be its

relevance to local area. Unless a story or subject

matter has a local perspective or has direct local

relevance it will not feature on Seven Towers FM.

Cool FM














Proportion of locally made programming

At present we propose that all programming on

Seven Towers FM will be locally made. However we

may consider buying material produced elsewhere if

it has some specific resonance with the local area.

We do not anticipate that this will happen on a

frequent basis and decisions to include such

programming will be taken on a case-to-case basis.



4. Programme Philosophy

(iii) Programme Schedule

(iii) Programme schedule

Time Programme

6.30 - 9.00

9.00 - 11.00

11.00 - 15.00

15.00 - 19.00

Weekdays 06.30-19.00

Seven Towers Breakfast

Seven Towers Breakfast’ will be a lively mix of music, local news and information

to ease listeners into the day. The presentation style will be warm and personable

with music that appeals to younger and "middle youth" (30-50) listeners. This

programme will give listeners doing school runs, on their way to work or college all

the information they need on traffic, travel and weather coupled with local, regional,

national and international news. ‘Seven Towers Breakfast’ will keep people in the

town and surrounding areas fully up to date with all the main headlines in the

local, regional and national newspapers.

Ballymena Today

‘Ballymena Today’ will be our flagship current affairs and talk programme.

‘Ballymena Today’ will feature the voices of the people of the town and surrounding

area through lively on-air discussion and examination of all issues affecting

everyday life. Our listeners will be offered the opportunity to set the agenda each

morning with the ‘opinion line’ open for calls from 8:30am onwards. Human

interest and lifestyle issues will also feature regularly. The programme will include

an extended local news bulletin at 10am, featuring local politics, reports from the

police service and all other up-to-the minute local news. The morning obituary

service will also be re-broadcast after the 10am local news.

Talk of the Town

‘Talk of the Town’ will feature a little something for all adults in and around the

town…whether they’re listening at home or at work. With regular short lifestyle

features, music and competitions ‘Talk of the Town’ will also focus on some of the

lighter aspects of life in Ballymena. The music mix will be predominantly oldies

and easy listening and listeners will be offered the chance to interact through the

daily request hour between 12 and 1pm. The Main Lunchtime News will also be

broadcast at 1pm keeping listeners up to date will all local news as it happens,

plus sport and the lunchtime obituary service.

Good Afternoon Ballymena

‘Good Afternoon Ballymena’ will feature the best in laid-back and easy listening

music. The early part of the programme will be music driven with community

notice-board, entertainment slots, previews of what’s on the box and celebrity

gossip. As drive-time approaches, the tempo will increase slightly and focus on

getting commuters home with regular traffic, travel and weather updates, a local

gig-guide and the main evening news at 5:45pm


News, weather, traffic, travel and sports headlines (5

minutes duration) every hour with full sport bulletins and

news headlines on the half hour (3 minutes duration).

Full local news bulletin (10 minutes duration) will be

broadcast at 8am. The morning obituary service will be

broadcast after the 8am news. The programme will

feature a "What’s on" guide and community news.

‘Ballymena Today’ will also feature the ‘Seven-Towers

Community Notice-Board’ each day. Other weekly

features will include ‘Compu-Doc’ (to advise people on

the latest technology for computers) ‘Property Focus’ (a

weekly analysis of the local property scene) and ‘Money

Doc’ (personal finance), ‘Crimeline’ (weekly crime slot)

and ‘Job-Seekers’ slots. News headlines, weather and

sport on the half hour (3 minutes duration). Extended

bulletin at 10am (10 minutes duration).

Weekly features will include the ‘Seven-Towers Book

Club’, health and fitness slot, ‘Pet’s Corner’ (veterinary

slot) and ‘Green Fingers’ (gardening advice).

News, weather and sports headlines on the hour

(3minutes duration). Main lunchtime news, sport,

obituaries and weather at 1pm (15 minutes duration).

Main evening news, sport, obituary and weather service

go on air at 5.45 pm (15 minutes duration) with rolling

news headlines, weather, traffic and travel on the hour

up to 5pm and half hourly thereafter (2 minutes

duration). Community Notice-board. Gig-guides and

entertainment news.

% Speech/Music

25% Speech

65% Music

50% Speech

40% Music

25% Speech

65% Music

30% Speech

60% Music


4. Programme Philosophy

(iii) Programme Schedule

Time Programme


19.00 - 19.30


19.00 - 19.30


19.00 - 19.30


19.00 - 19.30


19.00 - 19.30

Weekday Specialist Programmes 19.00-19.30


Seven Towers FM keeps Ballymena in shape with this weekly progamme focusing

on all aspects of health and fitness. The show will examine issues such as healthy

eating, fitness and exercise programmes, alternative therapies, information on

health and social services and an on-air doctor to field health queries.

Education Today

Helping listeners keep abreast of all the latest from the education world, ‘Education

Matters’ will discuss study techniques, exam preparation, career options, adult and

lifelong learning. Parents and school-children alike will find this programme a

resource giving them information to help them get the best from school, update

their skills or return to education.

Land Link

Agriculture is big business in rural areas surrounding the town of Ballymena and

‘Land Link’ will appeal to all those involved in the agricultural sector and agribusiness.

‘Land Link’ will offer advice and information on trends in farming, EU

Schemes, mart updates, agri-business and new sectors such as organic farming.

Seven Towers Entertainment

Seven Towers Entertainment’ prepares listeners for the weekend by previewing the

latest film releases, with special attention on what is due to hit the Ballymena and

Antrim screens. Each week a listener will be tasked with getting down to their local

cinema and reporting back with their view on a new release. The programme will

also feature the word on the street with vox-pops from cinema-goers. Music will

come from classic and current movie soundtracks.

Sports Weekend

Local sports personalities, team managers, players, athletes and sporting punters of

all denominations will look ahead and discuss all the weekend sporting action. The

programme will cover all sports with experts in each field analysing "the week that

was, the weekend that will be" on the sporting front.


Local news and sport on the hour (3 minutes duration).

Local news and sport on the hour (3 minutes duration).

Agri-business updates and the latest from the marts in

the catchment area. Local news and sport on the hour

(3 minutes duration).

Local news and sport on the hour (3 minutes duration).

Local news and sport on the hour (3 minutes duration).

% Speech/Music

100% Speech

100% Speech

100% Speech

60% Speech


100% Speech


4. Programme Philosophy

(iii) Programme Schedule

Time Programme

19.30 - 21.00

21.00 - 23.00

23.00 - 02.00

02.00 - 04.00

05.00 - 06.30

Weekdays 19.30- 06.30

The Country Show

As the name suggests ‘The Country Show’ will comprise all that’s best in country

music. The main music selection will feature classic American country but

favourite album-tracks and a smattering of Cajun will also feature. Listener

competitions, requests and dedications will form an important part of the

programme and ‘The Country Show’ will also feature the local gig guide.

Chart Blitz

Energetic, lively, up-to-date and aimed at younger listeners, ‘Chart Blitz’ will be very

local and interactive. The show will be largely text driven, creating a dynamic where

listeners recognise each other and interact with the presenter allowing the radio to

channel messages and chat. The show will also feature ‘The Interactive 5 at 10’

where listeners will vote, via text, for their favourite song of the evening.

The Late Lounge

‘The Late Lounge’ is the perfect way to wind down from a hard day and ease into a

brand new one. As the lights dim on Seven-Towers so does a busy day and ‘The

Late Lounge’ is the perfect partner to head off to sleep with. The show will be

mainly text and email driven with listeners late-night requests being a prominent

part of the content.

Ballymena Today (repeat)

The station’s flagship programme returns for those who work the nightshift.

Seven Towers Sunrise

A pre-recorded early morning mix of easy listening tunes to lift the shades and ease

listeners into a brand new day. Seven Towers Sunrise will run to 7.00 on Fridays.


News on the hour (IRN). Local talent showcase.

News on the hour (IRN).

Bite-size reviews of new computer games, film and video

releases, singles and albums

News on the hour (IRN) up to 01.00.

% Speech/Music

15% Speech


15% Speech


10% Speech


50% Speech


10% Speech

80% Music:


4. Programme Philosophy

(iii) Programme Schedule

Time Programme

07.00 - 10.00

10.00 - 11.00

11.00 - 12.00

12.00 - 14.00


18.00 - 20.00


02.00 - 07.00

Weekend Programmes Saturday

Saturday Sunrise

Seven Towers’ residents will wake up to a weekend mix of easy listening music,

news, sport and weather.

Best Of Ballymena Today

For listeners who may have missed the best and most entertaining segments of our

flagship mid-morning programme during the week, our Saturday morning replay of

those "best bits" will offer Ballymena residents a chance to catch up.

Saturday Agenda

‘Saturday Agenda’ is a special current affairs and local issues programme. The

programme will be presented live with politicians asked to comment on the main

issues of the week just past. Local and national figures will also delve into the

week’s happenings in business and on other issues affecting the local community.

The Saturday Brunch

‘The Saturday Brunch’ is a mainly music and request-driven programme. We’ll be

getting out and about around the Seven Towers FM area with our outside broadcast

unit and cruisers will be on location. These live links will also add to the weekend

atmosphere and bring an added flavour of local events to everyone.

Saturday Sports

‘Saturday Sports’ will offer live coverage and commentary of key matches in the

local area. Teaming up with PROs from sports clubs and associations across Mid

Antrim it will also bring a slice of the wide variety of sporting life in the area to

listeners. In addition to focusing on the backbone of the Ballymena sporting

calendar – matches involving Ballymena United, Ballymena RFC and local GAA and

athletics, ‘Saturday Sports’ will cater to minority sports with a strong local following

such as motor-sport, basketball and cycling.

Ballymena Live

The show will feature demo recordings, live interviews and live music from local

and Northern Ireland bands and artists. The programme will also set the scene for

the weekend with a look at all gigs happening in and around the Ballymena area.

The Classic Café

The best Saturday night songs to get our listeners into the party mood! ‘The Classic

Café’ will be the perfect accompaniment for any enjoyable night…whether it’s

letting your hair down on the town or a party right at home in the living room.

Overnight Music

Continuous overnight music from 60’s, 70’s, 80’s,90’s and to-day


Weekend newspaper headlines and local obituaries after

10.00 news. Local news, sport and weather on the hour

(3 minutes duration).

Local news, sport and weather on the hour (3 minutes


Local news, sport and weather on the hour (3 minutes


Local news, sport and weather on the hour (3 minutes


Local news, sport and weather on the hour (3 minutes


Local news, sport and weather at 18.00 (3 minutes

duration), followed by obituaries. News on the hour

(IRN) thereafter.

News on the hour (IRN) up to 01.00.

% Speech/Music

20% Speech

70% Music

70% Speech

20% Music

100% Speech

20% Speech

70% Music

50% Speech

40% Music

20% Speech


10% Speech/


10% Speech

80% Music


4. Programme Philosophy

(iii) Programme Schedule

Time Programme

07.00 - 10.00

10.00 - 10.30

10.30 - 11.15

11.15 - 14.00


19.00 - 20.00


22.00 - 02.00

02.00 - 05.00

05.00 - 06.30

Weekend Programmes Sunday

Sunday Morning Country and Gospel

Country, gospel and middle-of-the -road music are the order of the day to get

Sunday off to a good start. Listeners’ requests will feature prominently but we will

mainly let the music do the talking in a soothing fashion.


This half hour programme concentrating on issues and interests for older people will

be developed in conjunction with community and senior citizen groups.

Sunday Service

In association with our religious advisory group, we will broadcast Sunday morning

Service or Mass, rotating among the main of churches in the Ballymena area.

Solid Gold Sunday

As the name suggests, oldies form the main musical selection on ‘Solid Gold

Sunday’, featuring the best sounds of the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.

Sunday Sport

Contains live commentaries and updates from all local, regional, national and

international sporting action. Each programme will finish with results and reports

from Ballymena and surrounding areas in a round-up of the day's action.

Sunday Reflections

A different presenter each week takes time to contemplate the quieter side of life in

a ‘desert island discs’-style show blending soothing music with anecdotes,

remembrances and reflections.

Great Irish Albums

Offers a showcase for recent and classic Irish contemporary music. Ranging across

the province the play list will boast acts like Van Morrisson, The Undertones,

Relish, Juliet Turner and Snow Patrol to name but a few. The show will also

feature a guest of the week reflecting on some of their favourite Irish tracks.

The Rock Show

Three great hours of the best of rock music. The show will feature classic, soft and

hard rock music of yester-year, yesterday, and today.

Overnight Music

All time favourites of yesterday and today’s big hits see us through the small hours.

Seven Towers Sunrise

A pre-recorded early morning mix of easy listening tunes to lift the shades and ease

listeners into a brand new day.


Local news, sport and weather on the hour (3 minutes

duration). Obituaries following 08.00 News. Event Guide

and Community Noticeboard.

Local news, sport and weather on the hour (3 minutes


Local news, sport and weather on the hour (3 minutes

duration). Listeners requests and dedications.

Local news, sport and weather on the hour (3 minutes


News on the hour (IRN)

News on the hour (IRN)

The show will also feature a guest of the week

reflecting on some of their favourite Irish tracks.

News on the hour (IRN) up to 01.00

% Speech/Music

20% Speech


100% Speech

100% Speech

10% Speech

80% Music

50% Speech


25% Speech

65% Music

20% Speech


10% Speech


10% Speech


10% Speech



Application for ILR Licence for Ballymena

105 (B)and(C)

105 (B) and (C): Catering for Tastes and Interests/Broadening Choice

5. Format

I am delighted that there will be such a

community-based service with emphasis on local

issues…….I hope all goes well with your bid.

Reverend Norman Brown,

Ballymena Inter-Church Group

5. Format



Station name Seven Towers FM

Licence area Ballymena and surrounding area

Frequency N/A

Service duration 24 hours a day (all locally produced and presented, automated programming will run each night from 0200 to 0630)


Speech "Speech" excludes advertising, programme/ promotional trails and sponsor credits and may be

calculated across daytime or non-daytime.

Peaktime(s) "Peaktime(s) refers to Weekday Breakfast and Afternoon Drivetime output, and Weekend Late Breakfast.

Daytime "Daytime" refers to 0630 to 1900 weekdays and weekend output from 0800 to 1400.

Locally Produced/presented Production and presentation from within the licence area.

Character of service

A full service music and information station aimed at all adults in Ballymena and the surrounding area with

significant resources devoted to local news and information.


The bedrock of Seven Towers FM will be local news and current affairs, sport, weather, traffic and travel news, events and community

news and music that meets the tastes of our diverse audience.

Speech content will not normally fall below 30% of weekday daytime output and average daytime weekend output.

Daytime and evening programming will involve a high level of listener participation including phone-ins and text requests.

Every weekday a half hour special interest programme will be broadcast including a farming/agricultural programme,

a health programme and a sports analysis programme.

Local news, sport and information will be broadcast hourly and half hourly at certain times from

06.30 to 19.00 weekdays and 08.00 to 18.00 at weekends.

Weekend sports coverage will include live commentary from local soccer, rugby and GAA games.

Music output will be segmented with daytime output balanced between 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, 00’s and current hits.

Evening programmes will be aimed at different age segments and include country, chart hits and rock. Seven Towers FM

will provide a platform for local music talent and commits to play a minimum of 25% music of Irish origin across the schedule.



Application for ILR Licence for Ballymena

105 (D)

105 (D): Evidence of Local Demand or Support

6. Evidence of Demand

I am delighted to hear that you are proposing a specific farming

programme and regular farm and mart news. I appreciate the

importance you have attached to the local agricultural community.

Brian King, Chairman, Co. Antrim Agricultural Association

6. Evidence of Demand

(i) - (v) Objectives, key questions, methodology, sample size, time and place of research

6 Evidence of demand


While we appreciate that non-research evidence of

local support may be considered of equal

importance to evidence of demand, we believe a

major investment such as Seven Towers FM should

be firmly based on objective evidence of demand

for its programming and advertising offer.

To this end we have undertaken what we

understand is the most comprehensive piece of

media research ever undertaken in the Ballymena

area. The work was directed by John Porter of

Interactions, a specialist radio research

consultancy. John is a member and former director

of the Marketing Society of Ireland and a member

of the Society’s Research Standards Committee.

The Marketing Society of Ireland is bound by and

complies with the standards and ethical codes of

the Market Research Society in the UK and The

European Society of Market Research. Fieldwork

was carried out by a team of independent local

researchers contracted to and under the direction of

Interactions Ltd. Milward Brown UMS carried out

our survey of local advertisers.

On the basis of our research it is clear that there is

very significant demand among all age groups for a

new local service. Demand peaks within the 30-59

age group where 83% of respondents would

definitely listen/give it a try.

Our report profiles programming requirements

among our target audience and finds a clear

demand for a wide range of local speech based

programming from local news and current affairs,

local sports coverage to special interest content.

The research clearly endorses our strategy of

segmentation wherein different age groups are

targeted at different times in our programme

schedule. In this synopsis of our research we look

at the needs and preferences of two distinct listener

age segments, 15 – 29 years olds and 30-59 year


Because our daytime listeners are more

concentrated in the 30-59 year segment we have

shaped our daytime schedule, both in terms of

content and music preference, mainly around their

requirements. That is not to say that a significant

proportion of 15-29 year olds will not be catered

for during the daytime. However our evening and

night time programming, as well as daytime

programming at weekends, will appeal more to

their tastes in music as well as special interests

such as sports coverage.

(i) – (v) Objectives, key questions, methodology,

sample size, time and place of research

Overall research objectives:

■ To determine the need for and likely market

size for a new local radio station,

■ To identify levels of satisfaction with existing

services and early adopters of a new local service,

■ To determine a desired programme mix (music,

local news, sport etc.) with a focus on broadening


■ To determine advertising needs and likelihood of

placement from local retail, leisure and service


Research Modules

Phase One - Desk Research:

■ Full review of RAJAR data on existing stations,

■ Analysis of census data,

■ Review of programme schedules of existing stations

(concentrating on broadening choice),

■ Report on music output and speech/music balance

of existing stations by Intelligent Media,

■ Review of previous research carried out in the

Belfast area.



6. Evidence of Demand

(i) - (v) Objectives, key questions, methodology, sample size, time and place of research

Phase Two - Formal market research

Summary of methodology

This research into the feasibility of a new local

radio station for Ballymena was carried out during

February and March 2005.

The research was built on an already extensive

knowledge of general radio programming

preferences gained during research in Belfast

during 2004 (as well as on extensive research for a

number of local stations in the Republic of Ireland).

Research was divided into 5 phases:

■ Desk research, including review of previous


■ Qualitative interviews with residents of Ballymena –

to elicit issues around local needs

■ A large scale Hall Test using a questionnaire

formulated from previous research and user needs

revealed in the interviews. The output from this

phase was a quantified profile of needs in all

listening areas for different age and demographic


■ A large scale doorstep and on-street survey across

the area in order to add precision to the Hall Test

data especially in the areas of listening behaviour,

local programming needs and demand for a new

local station,

■ A telephone survey of potential advertisers. (see

Financial and Business Plan (c), Financial

Projections (g) and Appendix (h))

Listener Research Matrix

Dates Action Method Questions Sample

Feb Review of Previous research To identify the issues relating to

2005 Belfast Research reports and data programming and preferences that

would have general applicability for

local radio in Northern Ireland

Feb Review of To identify reach and share

2005 RAJAR data of existing stations

Feb 5th 1:1 and small Interviews conducted in Favourite station (reasons) 14 people aged 15 – 70

2005 group interviews Ballymena by J Porter When, where and why do you listen,

conducted in Programme needs,

private in a hotel Presenter style, Local issues,

Sport, Music, Likelihood of listening.

Feb 12th Hall Test in Self completion Listening behaviour 98 fully completed

2005 Ballymena questionnaires in Station performance & preferences questionnaires,

Shopping Centre a supervised setting Needs analyses for: ages 15 – 70 with

Boardroom Presenters, Programmes, Music, quotas for age

Adverts. Competitions, groups and gender

Need for new station,

Likelihood to listen demographics.

Feb 15th On-street and By interview using Listening behaviour 200 random ages 15 – 70

- Mar 1st doorstep paper questionnaires Station performance & preferences

2005 interviews at and show-cards Needs analyses for:

specified sampling Programmes,

points within a Likelihood to listen demographics.

10 mile radius of


Feb 15th Telephone Questionnaire provided Current advertising 60 respondents – responsible

- Mar 1st interviews by to interviewers Use of radio for placement of advertising

2005 Milward Brown Likely use of local Ballymena radio in local businesses of more

(Ulster Marketing Future budgets than 5 employees




6. Evidence of Demand

(vi) Summary of Main Findings

(vi) Summary of Main Findings

Headline findings

1. Older (30+) listeners dominate daytime listening

while younger listeners tune in more in the early

morning and at night

2. 78 % of all respondents (81% 30 – 59) say that

Ballymena definitely or possibly needs a new local


3. 72 % of all respondents (83% 30 – 59) would

listen to it (definitely or would try it)

4. Demand for the new station extends significantly

into the age groups below 30 and above 59

5. Levels of satisfaction with the stations currently on

offer are not as high as would be expected if these

stations were satisfying peoples’ needs

6. There is strong demand for local news and sports

reporting as well as local community and event


7. The station must have a local presence and feel

with presenters from and identified with the

locality. The station must be visible and accessible

8. There is evidence of strong demand for local retail

and event advertising

9. Music is much in demand with a more or less

equal balance of music 1970’s to today and easy


10.More competitions would be welcome, but they

must be local and there must be a chance of local

people winning

The need for a new local Ballymena Station

Almost everybody in every age group sees a need for a

new local station. But older people want it more

strongly. However it has to be acknowledged that even

the loyal Cool FM and BBC R1 listeners who tend to

be younger would still like a local offer.

89 %

0 %

Age x Need Local Radio











15-19 20-24 25-29 30-34 35-39 40-44 45-49 50-54 55-59 60 & over

Definitely & Possibly Unsure & No need













6. Evidence of Demand

(vi) Summary of Main Findings

Who would actually listen?

Interest in actually listening to a new local station is

strong from age 15 upwards, lifts off at age 25 and by

age 40 is concrete. We conclude that the main interest

in a new station lies in its ability to appeal to age 25-

30 and over – possibly peaking between ages 40 and


When are different age segments listening?

Our research revealed that, in Ballymena, people in

different age-brackets are more likely to be listening at

different parts of the day. There is a clear division

between old and young with older audiences more

likely to tune in during day-time and younger listening

peaking at night. This will allow us to weight daytime

programme content slightly more towards the interests

of those in the over 30 age-bracket while providing a

more music-oriented service in the evening. Despite

this we will provide a universal service and fine tuning

of programming will be subtle enough to ensure that

no particular age-group is excluded at any time of the


Proportion of Sample

95 %

0 %

Age x Likely Listen



















15-19 20-24 25-29 30-34 35-39 40-44 45-49 50-54 55-59 60 & over

Definitely & Would try it Wait, Unlikely & No interest

When Listen by Age







15-29 yrs 30-59 yrs 60 & over























Time of Day



6. Evidence of Demand

(vi) Summary of Main Findings

Programme needs and preferences

When you separate the 15-29 age segment from the

30-59 segment, clear differences in tastes and

interests emerge both in terms of the type of

programmes they like to hear on radio and - albeit to a

much lesser extent - in their demands from a local

radio station. We have used these signposts to

structure our programme schedule which clearly

reflects their preferences.

General Radio Programme Preferences: 15 – 29 years

Music, news, competitions and celebrity news

dominate. Our evening programming will be musicoriented

carrying more current hits than our daytime

mix to cater to these needs. Competitions, celebrity

news and competitions are spread throughout the

Seven Towers FM schedule.

General Radio Programme Preferences: 15 – 29 years

Definitely & Like No Strong Feelings No

Music 100% 0% 0%

NI News 82% 9% 9%

Competitions 82% 18% 0%

Celebrity News/Famous People 73% 10% 17%

Phone-in chat/debates 56% 18% 26%

Today’s Provincial Sport 56% 34% 9%

Crime 53% 31% 16%

Health/Lifestyle/Medical 50% 32% 18%

Today’s National/Intl Sport 52% 29% 19%

Educational Issues 47% 41% 13%

National/Intl News 45% 52% 3%

Household/Recipe/Cooking 11% 21% 68%

National/Intl Current Affairs 28% 59% 13%

Farming News & Interests 8% 16% 76%

Plays 18% 24% 58%

Radio Documentaries 16% 32% 52%



6. Evidence of Demand

(vi) Summary of Main Findings

Programme Preferences from

a Local Station: 15-29 years

Music, local entertainment and practical information on

weather and traffic dominate in local programming

preferences among this age-group. Listening among

15-29 year olds is strong in the morning and begins to

rise noticeably again from 4pm onwards. At these peak

times in our daytime schedule we significantly increase

the number of local traffic and weather news updates

and extend our Ballymena area news coverage.

Between 5pm and 7pm every evening we will also

feature a comprehensive gig-guide, responding to

demand for information on what is happening locally.

There is a significant interest here in local

entertainment which will be the subject of a weekly

two-hour show on Saturday evenings.

Programme Preferences from a Local Station: 15-29 years

Definitely & Like No Strong Feelings No

Music requests 91% 7% 2%

Live music / local bands 84% 14% 3%

Local Entertainment 70% 20% 10%

Local Gossip 68% 25% 7%

Traffic Updates 64% 27% 9%

Local Weather Updates 62% 27% 11%

Local Competitions 57% 29% 14%

Local Interviews at local events 55% 23% 22%

Ballymena Area News 52% 33% 15%

Local Sports News 45% 39% 16%

Documentaries: local events 44% 27% 29%

Sports Analysis 41% 41% 17%

Local Sports Live Coverage 39% 39% 21%

Charity Programmes 28% 44% 29%

Special Community Programmes 26% 38% 26%

Activities & schemes for children 23% 31% 45%

Family & Community problems 23% 26% 51%

Tourism 15% 33% 52%

Local Politics 16% 27% 58%

Welcoming Interviews 15% 35% 50%

Arts 14% 31% 55%

Local Council News 12% 27% 61%

Local Heritage 7% 33% 60%



6. Evidence of Demand

(vi) Summary of Main Findings

General Radio Programme

Preferences: 30 – 59 years

Music, Northern Ireland news and lifestyle dominate

this section of the results and all of these elements are

generously featured in our day-time schedule. A

number of areas of particular interests such as health

and education have also emerged quite strongly here

and these are catered to in our special interest

programming each weekday.

General Radio Programme Preferences: 30 – 59 years

Definitely Would like this a lot No strong feelings Not really Turn off station

National/Intl News 54% 22% 20% 0% 4%

National/Intl Current Affairs 25% 26% 43% 2% 4%

NI News 82% 11% 5% 2% 0%

Music 84% 9% 5% 0% 2%

Phone-in chat/debates 44% 22% 24% 7% 4%

Plays 6% 12% 50% 25% 8%

Radio Documentaries 21% 15% 44% 12% 8%

Competitions 41% 31% 17% 9% 2%

Today’s National/Intl Sport 39% 13% 36% 11% 2%

Today’s Provincial Sport 37% 15% 38% 8% 2%

Crime 44% 31% 20% 2% 2%

Health/Lifestyle/Medical 40% 35% 18% 5% 2%

Educational Issues 39% 24% 28% 7% 2%

Celebrity News/Famous People 26% 30% 31% 11% 2%

Farming News & Interests 12% 25% 35% 14% 14%

Household/Recipe/Cooking 16% 35% 25% 17% 7%



6. Evidence of Demand

(vi) Summary of Main Findings

Local News and Programming: 30-59 years

These results show that those in the 30-59 agebracket

require a much more diverse range of

programming from a local station. Local news

including traffic and weather is important and these

feature throughout the daytime schedule. We also see

a greater demand for local council news and politics in

this age-group. Listeners in this age-bracket are more

likely to be listening between 9am and 4pm and,

accordingly our main talk-show, Ballymena Today, is

scheduled from 9-11am with concentration on these

elements. Reflecting the high interest in music requests

among 30-59 year-olds our main programmes

between 11am and 5pm are request driven.

Programme Preferences from a Local Station: 30 – 59 years

Definitely Would like this a lot No strong feelings Not really Turn off station

Ballymena Area News 55% 34% 10% 1% 1%

Local Weather Updates 55% 38% 6% 1% 1%

Traffic Updates 55% 39% 5% 1% 1%

Local Sports News 28% 19% 32% 17% 4%

Sports Analysis 23% 18% 34% 20% 6%

Local Sports Live Coverage 24% 17% 34% 18% 7%

Local Entertainments 30% 40% 24% 6% 0%

Live music / local bands 19% 26% 37% 14% 3%

Documentaries: local events 26% 42% 26% 5% 1%

Local Competitions 33% 37% 26% 3% 1%

Charity Programmes 21% 46% 29% 3% 1%

Activities & schemes for children 22% 43% 27% 6% 2%

Family & Community problems 23% 42% 26% 7% 2%

Tourism 12% 37% 39% 10% 2%

Local Heritage 17% 30% 37% 13% 3%

Arts 11% 28% 41% 15% 5%

Music requests 51% 36% 10% 2% 1%

Local Gossip 42% 29% 24% 5% 1%

Local Interviews at local events 25% 36% 35% 3% 1%

Special Community Programmes 18% 32% 41% 6% 2%

Local Council News 15% 47% 29% 7% 2%

Local Politics 21% 37% 30% 7% 4%

Welcoming Interviews 12% 31% 39% 16% 1%



6. Evidence of Demand

(vi) Summary of Main Findings

Seven Towers FM’s programme schedule has been

designed to reflect the priority of preferences while at

the same time catering, through its special interest

programming, for more niche interests.

30-59 year olds want more Ballymena news than they

can currently get from their favourite station, but music

also remains a key requirement. Seven Towers will

offer both of these elements in abundance.

Gender Differences

We are satisfied that there are no dramatic differences

in programming demands between men and women

apart from in the area of sport. Depicted as

mean scores the only significant gender

difference is in this area where men want much


Music, news and competitions are in high

demand among both genders, although women

are more favourable towards competitions than


More Same Less

Ideal Station MUSIC 47% 51% 2%

Ideal Station TALK 25% 66% 10%

Ideal Station SPORT 18% 46% 35%

Ideal Station BALLYMENA NEWS 59% 38% 2%


Ideal Station COMPETITIONS 47% 44% 9%

Gender Differences

Ideal Station MUSIC

Ideal Station TALK

Ideal Station SPORT





Male Female Total




6. Evidence of Demand

(vi) Summary of Main Findings

Music Needs and Preferences

When we segment our listeners by age we see a clear

difference in terms of music preferences. Our 15-29

year olds are much more interested in current music

than 30-59 year olds. This provides solid evidence for

music programming aimed specifically at certain age

groups. Our 9am – 4pm music programming provides

a balance of 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and 00s music to

cater to the over-30s while playing still playing some

current hits to attract younger listeners. This clearly

broadens choice by stepping away from the chartdominated

policies pursued by services currently

available in the area. 15-29 year old listening is

strongest at night and therefore our main evening

music programme from 9pm provides the current hits

that they favour.

(see Music Preferences 30-59 years overleaf)

Music preferences: 15 - 29 years

Regularly Occasionally Neither Tend not to Turn off / change

Current Chart Hits 64% 18% 6% 3% 9%

Hits 00-04 76% 18% 3% 3% 0%

90’s 36% 36% 9% 15% 3%

80’s 12% 42% 18% 24% 3%

70’s 9% 25% 31% 31% 3%

60’s 9% 15% 33% 36% 6%

Traditional Irish 9% 24% 21% 18% 27%

Rock 42% 30% 21% 3% 3%

Classical 0% 22% 22% 28% 28%

Country 24% 18% 18% 12% 29%

Jazz 3% 9% 21% 27% 39%

Love / Easy 42% 24% 9% 6% 18%

Pop 65% 24% 3% 6% 3%

R&B 75% 16% 6% 0% 3%

Soul 26% 29% 18% 9% 18%



6. Evidence of Demand

(vi) Summary of Main Findings & (vii) Full Data Tables

Music preferences: 30 - 59 years

Regularly Occasionally Neither Tend not to Turn off / change

Current Chart Hits 45% 34% 8% 9% 4%

Hits 00-04 43% 26% 11% 19% 2%

90’s 33% 40% 9% 16% 2%

80’s 38% 35% 13% 12% 2%

70’s 42% 31% 13% 13% 2%

60’s 37% 25% 21% 15% 2%

Traditional Irish 12% 36% 18% 22% 12%

Rock 24% 29% 24% 18% 4%

Classical 14% 20% 24% 22% 22%

Country 28% 35% 16% 12% 18%

Jazz 8% 13% 23% 31% 25%

Love / Easy 22% 44% 19% 11% 4%

Pop 33% 35% 15% 12% 6%

R&B 25% 40% 15% 17% 4%

Soul 17% 35% 23% 13% 12%

(vii) Full Data Tables

Full data tables, including our advertiser research, are

contained in the series of research reports that

comprise appendix (h) to this document.



Application for ILR Licence for Ballymena

105 (D)

105 (D): Evidence of Local Demand or Support

7. Evidence of Support

We have used provincial radio advertising in the past however our

advertising budget limits our use of these services. We would

appreciate a local alternative that would offer flexibility and

advice on how to make the best use of our budget.

Glen Nicholls, Enterprise Ulster, Ballymena

7. Evidence of Support

7. Evidence of support

Ballymena town lies at the centre of a tightly knit

community that has a strong sense of its individual

identity. The local business community provides

strong leadership and, together with the Borough

Council, takes a prominent role in promoting both

commercial and community interests in the area.

Sporting passions abound in Ballymena, the web of

sports organisations that spreads across Mid Antrim

hold significant clout and are a key part of local

identity. In addition, churches provide key points of

influence for the people of Ballymena and Antrim

and are an integral part of the lives of many

citizens. Understanding, empathy and involvement

with this local structure will be essential for a new

local station if it expects to succeed here.

The main strengths of the Seven Towers FM bid is

our familiarity with the Ballymena and Antrim area

and our links with the local community through the

Ballymena Guardian and our local shareholders –

ours is a local bid. All local organisations have long

standing relationships with the Ballymena Guardian

and this network will offer us a considerable

advantage in establishing a station for Ballymena.

In researching our application we have received

very positive feedback to our bid on the streets and

as evidence of this we have collected statements of

support from all walks of life in Ballymena and its

surrounding area.

Local Groups

We have contacted all of the sporting, political,

business, church and community organisations listed

below. Many of these organisations will act as

important content partners with Seven Towers FM and

are extremely enthusiastic about the potential this role

offers. For example the major sports clubs are

committed to a close working relationship with Seven

Towers FM where their PROs will partake in sports

programming and Seven Towers FM will broadcast live

coverage of their matches. We have included only a

selection of statements below and a selection of the

letters of support from local groups in the appendix to

this document as requested by Ofcom.

Full list of organisations contacted:

Ballymena Chamber of Commerce; Fairhill Shopping

Centre; Antrim County GAA; Ballymena Training

Consortium; Ballymena Community Forum; Ballymena

Strategy Partnership; North Antrim Community

Network; Ballymena Rugby Football Club; Ballee Youth

Diversionary Project; Ballymena Inter-church Group; All

Saints Parish; Mobile Creative Arts Project; Mervyn

Rankin, Ballymena Borough Council, Town Clerk and

Chief Executive; Sean Farren, SDLP MLA; North

Eastern Education and Library Board; Co. Antrim

Agricultural Association; Ballymena United FC

What they said:

As a club we would be extremely supportive of

your bid and would be of the view that as a

community based rugby club we would be in a

position to provide significant content to your

envisaged sports section.

Jonathan Millar, Ballymena RFC

People in the town will really welcome a station

that talks about local issues…..I welcome the fact

that the Ballymena Guardian is leading a

consortium in a bid for the new FM radio licence

and I wish you well in your efforts.

Jim McGookin, Fairhill Shopping Centre

I am delighted that there will be such a communitybased

service with emphasis on local issues…….I

hope all goes well with your bid.

Reverend Norman Brown,

Ballymena Inter-Church Group

I am pleased to note the strong local component in

the consortium and the high value being placed on

local news and events, and partnership

opportunities with local groups.

Melanie Christie, CEO,

Ballymena Business Centre Ltd.

I am delighted to hear that you are proposing a

specific farming programme and regular farm and

mart news. This would allow us to strengthen our

information network and provide another valuable

route for getting messages out to the farmers….I

appreciate the importance you have attached to the

local agricultural community.

Brian King, Chairman,

Co. Antrim Agricultural Association

I would like to lend my support to the consortium

bid being led by the Ballymena Guardian for the

proposed FM radio license covering the Ballymena

area. A community-based service will be highly

beneficial to local people and service providers. I

look forward to a successful outcome.

Majella McAllister, Ballymena Community Partnership



7. Evidence of Support

While the BBC radio and television and UTV offer

an excellent countrywide coverage of sport, they

lack the time and space to provide adequate

space to local areas………This service will help

me to inform local sports enthusiasts on all GAA

activities in the Ballymena area.

Terry Cormican, Co. Antrim GAA

Ballymena deserves a local radio station that both

serves and reflects the local community. I am

very pleased that the town is at long last going to

get its own station and I wish you well in your


Councillor Peter Brown

Ballymena needs a local radio station that both

serves and reflects the local community……….I

am encouraged to learn that this bid is focussing

on providing a community-based service with an

emphasis on local issues and balanced coverage.

Rosalind Lowry, Arts and Development Officer,

Ballymena Borough Council

Potential Listeners

Potential listeners of all ages and socio-economic

groups have also voiced their support for our

application as a strongly locally-focussed service

concentrating on Ballymena and Antrim news, sport

and information.

If it’s a local station it should let you hear what’s

going on in everyday life in Ballymena – not

Belfast or London.

The station should cover local sports events -

football, rugby, hockey and gaelic football. I think

they should have a correspondent at these events

and keep people up to date on what’s happening

in local clubs.

An evening programme for young people, where

teenagers can phone in would keep you

interested when you’re doing your homewowrk

I’d be interested in occasional shows for charity.

People like to give to local charities and it would

make you feel like its your own station if these

kind of events were covered.

The station should have news from the local

council, they should be talking about planning

issues, the local development plans…..that kind

of thing.

I’d like to hear about the town on a new station

and to hear local people putting their views

across. I think it should be about Ballymena

having a choice, having a say.

DJ’s should be local and we should be able to

relate to them. National station DJ’s are too

oriented towards the mainland.

Local Advertisers

In the course of our market research we identified a

large number of local business-people, companies and

service providers that welcome our bid for a new

station for Ballymena and are interested in the

advertising opportunities it will offer. A full list of the

advertisers surveyed and a selection of their statements

of support are provided below.

Antrim Builder Centre; Antrim Construction Co Ltd;

Antrim Enterprise Agency; Daniel McAlister & Sons;

Ballymena Business; Ballymena Meats; Camerons NI

Ltd; Dougans; Dayfresh; T Devlin Ltd; A H Erwin;

Enterprise Ulster; Alan Francey & Son; General Motor

Works; Galgorm Manor Hotel; James Henry Funeral

Services; Hamiltons Footwear; Kirk Autoexchange;

Logans Fashions Cloughmills Ltd; John Mulholland

Motors Ltd; Madden Bros Ltd; McKeown Motors;

McKinneys Property; Murrays of Randalstown; North

East Institute of Further & Higher Education; The

Ramble Inn; Reid Transport Ltd; Rockfield

Developments Ltd; Springfarm Architectural;

Townparks Car Sales; Wyse Byse; Womens Aid

Charity; Antrim Cineplex; Algram Home Interiors; Harry

Clarke & Co Ballymena; F J McCartney & Crawford;

BRS Cars; Curtis Cars; Dornans Ballymena Ltd; The

Fort Royal; Homes Independent; IMC Cinema; Knock

Road Furnishings; Moores Electrics; Edwin May

Ballymena Ltd; McKillens Shoes; W M McCosh; S

McAfee & Son; McAfee Properties & Mortgages; Nicholl

Bros Ltd; Rainey & Gregg; Tullyglass House Hotel;

Turtles of Rathkenny; Viscount ONeills Restaurant;

Wallaces; Wilsons of Rathkenny; Wrightbus Ltd; Zeds

Beds & Sofa Beds; J A McClelland & Sons Ltd

Auctioneers; BT & PO Sports & Social Club; Thompson

B Caldwell; Countrywide Blinds; Country Homes Estate

Agents; Downtown Motors; The Eye Care Clinic; The



7. Evidence of Support

Front Page Bar; The Framing Centre; R H Gault;

Joblink Ballymena; P Kelly & Son; Kiddiewinks Day

Care Nursery; Knowles & Gaston; The Landscape

Centre; Marks & Spencer Outlet; D McCooke

Memorials; Michelin Tyre Plc; Norbey; Patton Group;

Patton Homes; Robinson Cleaning & Support Services;

Schrader Electronics Ltd; Spences; Sportsbowl

Complex; Templeton Arms Hotel Ltd; Hugh Taggart &

Sons Ltd; The Thatch Inn; Village Blinds; William

Wylie Car Sales; Wellington Lighting; Carsons of

Duneane Ltd; Go Sun Restaurant; J T M Training

Agency; Kintullagh House Nursing Home; Mr Pat

Rainey; S D C Trailers; Stevenson & Co; Video City;

Ward Design/Elevate.

We have used provincial radio advertising in the

past however our advertising budget limits our

use of these services. We would appreciate a

local alternative that would offer flexibility and

advice on how to make the best use of our


Glen Nicholls, Enterprise Ulster, Ballymena

A station featuring local news and sports would

be a definite addition and as an advertiser I

would welcome the choice that this station will


Elaine Nicholl, Rainey and Gregg, Ballymena

I would welcome the introduction of a radio

station to the Ballymena area. The area would

benefit from a source which could professionally

communicate current news and features of local


Rodney Agnew, Antrim Construction Company

Limited, Hollywood

We don’t do a lot of advertising at the moment

however if we were presented with a keenly

priced alternative to the existing local option we

would have to re-consider this.

Jonathan Gault, RH Gault, Ballymoney

We would definitely be interested in having a

Ballymena station that could broadcast from

special events at the hotel. We are in the process

of re-building our main function rooms to allow

us to increase the number of big events such as

formal functions and bridal fairs that we can

host. I can see room for incorporating the station

in these.

Pauline Fenton, Tullyglass House Hotel, Ballymena

I’d definitely welcome more cost-effective local

advertising options – at the moment our only

local choice is press as all radio stations cover

the entire province. I could see the benefit of a

local radio station for businesses here.

Darren Calwell, Wilsons of Rathkenny, Ballymena

A local station catering to local needs can only

benefit the community. I would be interested in

advertising on such a station if it offered good

rates and was willing to build a relationship with


Angela Stanbridge, North East Institute of Further

Education, Ballymena

A new local station is a good idea. I think that

there is room for an additional local advertising

service to cover this area and I would be willing

to advertise on it once it was up and running.

Philip Glennie, AH Erwin, Antrim Town.



Application for ILR Licence for Ballymena

105 (D)




Applicants are required to conclude their submission by

responding to the following question:

Do you confirm that, to the best of your knowledge and


(i) the applicant is not a disqualified person in relation

to the licence by virtue of the provisions of section

143(5) of the Broadcasting Act 1996 (relating to

political objects);

(ii) no director or person concerned directly or

indirectly in the management of the company or

the applicant group is the subject of a

disqualification order as defined by section 145(1)

of the Broadcasting Act 1996;

(iii) no person involved in the application has been

convicted within the past five years of an

unlicensed broadcasting offence and that the

applicant will do all it can to ensure that no person

so convicted will be concerned in the provision of

the service, the making of programmes including in

it, or the operation of a radio station if the applicant

is granted a licence; and

(iv) any matters which might influence Ofcom’s

judgement as to whether the directors and

substantial shareholders involved in the application

are fit and proper persons to participate in a radio

licence have been made known to Ofcom?

Applicants should note that Ofcom reserves the right to

revoke a licence if at any time any material statement

made is found to be false and to have been made by

the applicant or any member or officer thereof knowing

it to be false, and that in the circumstances of section

144 of the Broadcasting Act 1996, the provision of

false information or the withholding of relevant

information with the intention of misleading Ofcom

could incur a criminal conviction and a disqualification

from the holding of a licence.

Yes, we confirm all aspects of the above.



Certificate of Incorporation



Application for ILR Licence for Ballymena

List of Appendices


Appendix (a)

Main contact for Ofcom purposes

Appendix (b)


Appendix (c)

Shareholder Addresses

Appendix (d)

Shareholders’ Agreement

Appendix (e)

Overdraft Facilities

Appendix (f)

Advertising Market Overview – Lyle Bailie

Appendix (g)


Appendix (h)


Appendix (i)

Transmission Site

Appendix (j)

Letters of Support

Appendix (k)

Consultants Details

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