Scott Williams new chair of IBI

25 May 2010

Scott Williams has been appointed chairman of the Independent Broadcasters of Ireland (IBI).

Williams, who is chief executive of Q102, takes over the role from Today FM’s chief executive, Willie O’Reilly, who has been chair of the body for the last two years.

Williams said an immediate priority will be scrutiny of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland’s (BAI) first three year budget, which is due be published in September. “The reason, and the only reason, that there is a requirement on the BAI to publish a three year budget in advance, was because the IBI successfully lobbied for this requirement to be included in the Broadcasting Act,” he said. 

“If independent radio has to pay for regulation then the regulator must provide a transparent and a clear account that offers the very best value for money.  This demand for ‘best value for money’ from industry and from politicians saw the BAI budget reduced by €2m this year.  That was a significant saving for all broadcasters at a time when many were under financial pressure due to the economic downturn.”

Financial matters

He said IBI members were encouraged by BAI chief executive Michael O’Keeffe’s commitment to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Communications that he will be seeking to maintain the annual budget of the BAI at current levels.

“The IBI will be pushing hard for a critical examination of the BAI’s proposed three year budget,” said Williams. “In my view there are aspects of the budget that are purely public service projects and should be funded from the licence fee.  These projects are not regulatory and therefore should not be borne by the independent sector. This of course would be a very significant departure, but it is one that in the interests of fairness, we should look at proactively.”

Williams added that he wants to address the continued promotion of radio as a unique medium during his term. “We are underselling the power of radio as an advertising medium and we need to do a better and more comprehensive job of explaining and selling radio to advertisers.  Research shows that radio, together with cinema, has the lowest level of advertising avoidance. People rarely switch stations, and are available to listen to any message that is relevant, creative or intriguing.  This is a great opportunity for advertisers who want to reach out to new customers or to tell existing customers something they didn’t know”.

“We do not have a dedicated capacity to research and to prove our case, to help sell our advertising, on a systematic basis.  We have to do better and it’s time to re-evaluate our options in this regard”, he said.

Photo: Scott Williams, the new chairman of the IBI

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