The commentary for the 2019 TT will not be a Manx Radio product and the station will have to drop its Manx Radio TT branding.
A freedom of information request from the Isle of Man Examiner reveals the terms agreed by the Department for Enterprise and Manx Radio for this year’s TT and Festival of Motorcycling, which was presented as a DfE memorandum.
At the time of our request, the final contract had not been signed but it is understood that the proposal outlined was, with a few minor changes, later agreed.
The new agreement, which is set to cost taxpayers about £113,000, would see the end of all Manx Radio TT branding from its coverage and the end of it being able to sell its own advertising for race coverage.
The commentary and race coverage would carry only an hourly announcement that says ’this service is provided by Manx Radio’.
The ban on Manx Radio branding from the TT coverage includes online content and says ’no social media usage will be included other than that which goes through the department’s own channels’.
All the advertising for the coverage will be handled and agreed by DfE and ’none will be contracted by Manx Radio’.
The advertisements available include 116 30-second slots, which are open for DfE ’partners’ and sponsors and which the department suggests it could use to ’leverage income’.
The proposal stated: ’This airtime would allow the motorsport team to attempt to leverage income from sponsors and partners to help alleviate the cost of the provision, although this is not guaranteed.
’An example of this would be the current merchandising licence, which for the significant uplift contains a “contra” of four “free radio adverts” per day the event station is operating.’
In effect, this means that sponsors who have deals with the government for sponsorship around the course will get free advertisements on the radio as a sweetener.
The proposal goes on to state the amount this would have cost the DfE without ownership of the coverage, however this price is blacked out on commercial grounds.
In addition to these advertisements, the DfE also plans to promote Visit Isle of Man, Locate.im and the new TT website, which would also have previously cost more taxpayers’ money.
For its qualifying coverage, Manx Radio will provide the service beginning at 5.30pm, with pre-qualifying build up, at 6pm to 6.20pm the station will focus on the on-course build up, from which it will present coverage of the session until 9pm followed by 30 minutes of post event coverage.
In total, it will need to provide six qualifying build up, coverage and post analysis shows, four race day coverages for the TT and for the Festival of Motorcycling with build up beginning at 9am and running until the end of the day’s racing and provide public service information when needed.
In January, when the memorandum was written, the DfE was ’prepared and ready to go’ with a tendering process and explored dropping radio coverage entirely for internet streaming through social media or the DfE website.
In fact, Manx Radio won the TT contract without having to tender for it at all for this year.
The DfE also commits to beginning a tender process for the 2020 TT, ’before the 2019 TT races to enable a supplier to be ready for 2020 events’.
Political member of DfE Onchan MHK Rob Callister said in his comments on the proposal that the figure being paid is ’far too high’.
Mr Callister added: ’I would certainly question the capital costs once again because of the ongoing review that Manx Radio has to undertake this year.
’As for the wider discussion, if Manx Radio genuinely wants to help deliver the TT, Classic TT and MGP commentary in the future, then this fee has to be included within the subvention.
’It is the only way that Manx Radio can actually continue to deliver the commentary service in the future.
’Any alternative model will certainly require a tender process and Manx Radio and its senior management should be mindful of that fact.’
In the space at the bottom for Enterprise Minister Laurence Skelly to comment, he wrote only ’agreed’.