Manx Radio will be paid £113,000 – on top of its £980,000 subvention – to provide TT radio this year, it has been confirmed.
The Department for Enterprise this week confirmed agreement in principle to award a contract for the radio commentary for the 2019 TT Races and Festival of Motorcycling to Manx Radio.
This was done without going out to tender, despite the department saying in September that it would do just that.
Enterprise Minister Laurence Skelly said a draft contract has been sent to Manx Radio for review and it is expected that it will be agreed in due course.
He told the Manx Independent that Manx Radio would be paid £113,000 to provide race commentary this year.
He said: ‘It’s about the same as last year but written into the contract is the ability and opportunity for us to offset it from sponsorship prospects.’
In its statement, the DfE said the decision follows the expiry of the previous contract and subsequent discussions with the Manx Radio board – and comes after a Tynwald select committee considered the future of public service broadcasting.
It said a long term decision around radio coverage was expected to be considered alongside a report the broadcaster is due to bring back to Tynwald later this year.
Mr Skelly said: ‘We had fully intended to go out to tender. However, the Tynwald motion somewhat changed all that. We had very little choice.’
He said there was no point in going out to tender for just a one-year contract.
But he said the intention was still to go out to tender, ‘subject to what happens in Tynwald in October’.
The Tynwald select committee on public service broadcasting heard last year that Treasury had been shocked by a bid from Manx Radio for an extra £250,000 to provide TT coverage.
The bid was rejected by the Council of Ministers who settled on a figure of about £100,000 – still double the £50,000 from the previous year.
Manx Radio’s subvention has been set at £980,000 for 2019-20 in the Budget Pink Book.
A DfE spokesman said: ‘The department has consistently stated that the radio coverage is extremely important and the debate that has surrounded this year’s decision is in no way a reflection on the team at Manx Radio – simply the department concluding on its financial obligations to ensure value for money.’
In September last year, the DfE rejected claims made on social media that Manx Radio had lost its contract and it was to be awarded to an off-island organisation.
It pointed out that the current radio broadcasting contract had simply lapsed and, as with any government contract, would ‘now be subject to a full tender process’.
The tender was to have taken place in September. Manx Radio was expected to be one of the parties wishing to enter into the tender process.
The DfE said: ‘It is Isle of Man Government’s policy that all commercial contracts are market tested through open procurement processes wherever possible to demonstrate value for money.’
The select committee on public service broadcasting had recommended a series of radical reforms including cutting the subvention, weaning the nation’s station off its reliance on commercial advertising and moving it into smaller premises.
But it had backing from no-one and following a combined vote in January an amendment by Tim Baker MHK was carried, which simply called on the board of Manx Radio to present a sustainable operational and funding plan to Tynwald by October.
Source: IOM Today