That’s Pirate Radio Part 13 – Century Radio

June 21, 2007 at 12:05 am 3 comments

In January 1989, Century Radio became Ireland’s first legal commercial station. Its owners were Oliver Barry, who was an old friend of Rambo Burke; John Mulhern, who was Taoiseach Charles Haughey’s son-in-law; and Jim Stafford, best man at Mulhern’s wedding to Haughey’s daughter. >>>

Transmission Fees

The Century owners quickly baulked at the transmission fees they had to pay to use RTE equipment.

Legally, Rambo Burke as Minister could reduce this fee, but only if Century could convince the IRTC that they had been negotiating with RTE and had reached an impasse.

They did this by faking letters and minutes, and Rambo issued a directive reducing Century’s fees. Two months later, out of the goodness of his heart, Oliver Barry gave Rambo £35,000 in cash.

Advertising Cap

That Christmas, with Century in financial freefall, Rambo personally assured their bankers that he would help the new station by passing a new law limiting RTE’s advertising revenue.

In 1990 Burke delivered on this promise.

As a bonus, he also tried but failed to divert some of RTE’s license money to the new commercial stations, and tried but failed to force 2FM to include educational, rural, farming, trade union and social welfare content along with their pop music.

Burke’s gambit failed to rescue the hapless Century, but it might have bankrupted RTE had it not been reversed three years later.

Next Post in Series: End of an Era
Previous Post in Series: Rambo’s Law
First Post in Series: Radio Dublin 253


Entry filed under: Culture, Politics.

This is the Best Trip I’ve Ever Been On Quiz – Real Names of Irish Personalities

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Twenty Major  |  June 21, 2007 at 2:12 pm

    What a mess it was. The main problem was that it tried to be all things to all people.

    10 different kinds of music and specialist shows, religious programming. It was just rubbish.

  • 2. Michael Nugent  |  June 22, 2007 at 12:51 am

    You’re right, Twenty – and Rambo’s bizarre solution was to try to bring 2FM down to the same level.

  • 3. Will Quinn  |  March 20, 2008 at 9:34 pm

    Actually it was a huge success. After 18 months it had 18% of the audience. Today FM has never reached that figure.
    Unfortunately there wasn’t a huge amount of money around in those days and even if there was the station was run by people who knew nothing about Radio advertising. The mounting debts and the IRTC’s un willingness to let British Capital Radio invest and save it meant there was only one way out…Closure.


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A blog by Michael Nugent

Welcome to my blog about living in the maddest country on earth. Please feel free to leave a comment.

I also write Bionic Bohs, a blog about following Bohemians football club in the 1970s.


Bionic Bohs

As mentioned above, if you like Irish football and/or cultural nostalgia, I also write Bionic Bohs, a blog about following Bohs in the 1970s.

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