The Department for Enterprise wishes to clarify the situation regarding the TT and Festival of Motorcycling radio broadcasting contract following comment online that suggests Manx Radio has lost the contract and that it is to be awarded to an off-Island organisation.
Neither of these assertions are correct.
The current radio broadcasting contract with Manx Radio has simply lapsed and, as with any Government contract, will now be subject to a full tender process.
The tender will take place in September and any decisions regarding who the final contract will be awarded to will be entirely dependent on that process. Any provider who tenders will need to be capable of meeting the requirements to broadcast the events on-Island. The Department would expect Manx Radio to be one of the parties wishing to enter into the tender process.
Manx Radio’s lead commentator, Tim Glover’s statement at the close of the Festival of Motorcycling stated that Manx Radio hoped to be back next year and correctly acknowledged that it would be subject to a tender process. No decision has been made as the tender has not yet been issued.
As to why a tender is being run the Department wishes to clarify the following:
- 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 TT and Festival of Motorcycling are unique events involving many stakeholders and hundreds of volunteers and importantly many tens of commercial contracts
- Following a number of years of temporary contract extensions, all TT and Festival of Motorcycling related commercial contracts are being reassessed and retendered with many tenders completed since the middle of 2017
- The decision to tender is not a reflection on the current providers of any of these contracts and many of the historic providers have been successful in obtaining further contracts through this process. However in some cases new providers have been appointed and the process is demonstrating value for money is being achieved, as well as being fair and transparent
In terms of the Manx Radio contract:
- The services provided by Manx Radio over a number of decades has been valued by the Department and fans alike, and has been subject to a temporary annual contract for a number of years
- In 2017 Manx Radio clarified that its current contract was loss making for them and requested what amounted to a fivefold increase in charges that the Department would need to pay. The Department agreed to a further extension of the existing contract for this year’s events in order to seek clarification into the process and prepare the tender
- Any radio broadcaster wishing to submit a tender through the process will need to demonstrate that they have both the spectrum and appropriate licences in place to broadcast on the Island, or be able to demonstrate that they can obtain these before next year’s events
- As part of this process, the Department has clarified with the Communications Commission the terms upon which a new licence could be awarded, and therefore there is a possibility that the process could lead to a provider new to the Island, but this is only a possibility and will depend on the submissions received
In conclusion the Department will be issuing a tender - this is standard Government policy on all commercial contracts - and although Manx Radio receives a subvention from Treasury, the coverage of the TT and Festival of Motorcycling is not treated as part of its public service broadcasting commitments covered by this subvention, the Department has been charged at separate contractual rates for these services.
Consequently the Department is bound to follow an open procurement process and this is in no way a reflection on the historic position, nor the highly regarded commentary team.
Manx Radio, along with other existing Isle of Man radio stations as well as off-Island providers may wish to tender and a decision, based on value and quality will be made in due course.