Geldof plans Irish music TV channel

DUBLIN — The wheels of change for a commercial Irish web turn very slowly indeed, but one person is hoping to leapfrog the grinding machinery — Live Aid maestro Bob Geldof plans to launch an Irish music TV station in his native country.

Geldof believes that his London-based company, Planet 24, which operates similar music stations in Romania and Poland, could have an Irish operation up and running in two months. But it’s not so simple. The state-appointed media regulatory body, the Independent Radio and Television Commission (IRTC), has granted the only available commercial license to long-gestating web TV3, whose startup date has been continually deferred since first receiving the IRTC’s imprimatur in 1989. Geldof, however, believes he could have an Irish operation, Atomic Ireland, up and running by Jan. 1, 1998.

Geldof, who met Irish Minister for Arts and Culture Sile de Valera on Oct. 8, claims that “the legislation as it currently exists doesn’t exclude Atomic from going on the network immediately.” Although proposals for the all-music channel were well-received by de Valera, Geldof is furious at the IRTC, whom he describes as the sole stumbling block to his plans. An IRTC spokesman said they are not prepared to approve a second commercial station “until a new regulatory framework exists.” The outspoken Geldof feels the IRTC is hopelessly out of touch with current viewing trends and demographics, calling it “anti-youth, anti-pop, and anti-jobs.” De Valera and the IRTC are now to meet urgently to discuss the matter.

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