THE government doubted that Manx Radio’s TT365 service would ever be a success.
In a statement released after the state-subsidised braodcaster announced it was pulling the plug on the project, the Department of Economic Develppment said: ‘The department, although wishing Manx Radio success in their venture, had concerns about the commercial viability of a year-round TT dedicated radio station.
‘The department re-affirmed in September 2012 to Manx Radio that government funding would not be available to support the service.
‘No agreement was therefore reached with Manx Radio to provide financial support for the TT365 service in 2013.
Manx Radio disputed that statement and soon afterwards a new one was released.
However, the new statement did not address the government’s verdict on the commercial viability of the project.
Manx Radio’s boss, Anthony Pugh, blamed a lack of promised funding after announcing the TT-only service was to stop broadcasting less than a year after its launch.
He said initial start-up for the project was funded by Manx Radio – with no extra government funding.
The channel was launched by mutual agreement with the Department of Economic Development, he said, and there was a written agreement in principle that it would be underwritten by the government.
That was followed by an initial statement from the DED which also said ‘re-affirmed in September 2012 to Manx Radio that government funding would not be available to support the service’.
The statement continued: ‘Our decisions about the provision of such services and facilities have to be made on the grounds of commercial viability.
‘Anything the department does to support the event has to be done following a proper assessment of financial sustainability.’
The later statement said the government had discussed the possibility of Manx Radio using the TT brand and future funding for Manx Radio TT and TT 365.
‘On the basis of these discussions TT 365 was launched by mutual agreement,’ it reads. ‘This did not develop into a funding strategy and no agreement was reached about the level of funding that may be available. No further progress was made with this proposal and Manx Radio continued to fund the project as its own commercial venture.’
Mr Pugh said the decision to close had been taken with ‘deep regret’, but the financial support that was ‘agreed in principle’ with government at the time they set up had not appeared.
Dan Walker, the station’s only full-time employee, has been made redundant.
Mr Pugh said: ‘The money was not coming so we have had to close it down.
‘We had an agreement with government for support but it never materialised. Government revenue is under pressure so I guess they felt it was not the highest priority.’
Mr Pugh said he believed last year that funding would come from advertising and TT sponsorship but this had not happened.
‘The government said they would underwrite it and they have never gone down that route so that’s the problem in terms of the financing of it,’ he said.
Manx Radio’s contract to provide the TT commentary and coverage is currently under consideration for renewal having reached the end of its three-year term after the end of the 2012 event.