Targeting Denis Desmond

Irish satirical magazine The Phoenix isn’t shy about declaring war, and has even run headings like “Targeting Denis Desmond,” which is something it seems to do every time an issue hits the streets.

Recent reports from the 18,000-circulation Dublin-based Private Eye wannabe include its gleeful account of how much time and money the MCD chief must have lost by having to go to the Supreme Court to secure the license for the city’s new rock radio station.

His Phantom FM, which also has the backing of U2 manager Paul McGuinness, was granted the license by the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI). But Zed FM, the main opposition, went to the High Court to ask for a judicial review of the decision.

The legal spiral whirled up to the Supreme Court on April 6th, where Zed – a consortium including Bob Geldof, Niall Stokes from Hot Press magazine, former FM 104 radio chief Dermot Hanrahan and rival concert promoter Jim Aiken – eventually lost the day. Two of the three judges ruled that Phantom’s bid had been a fair winner.

Although Desmond was on the winning side, what seems to please The Phoenix so much – particularly a columnist called Goldhawk – is that the whole legal process took 18 months.

More than a year ago, Phantom general manager Simon Maher told the U.K.’s The Sunday Times, “We’ve had to stop dead with everything. We can’t proceed any further and this leaves us in limbo.”

Desmond reacted to Pollstar questions about the hounding he’s getting from The Phoenix by calling it “gutter journalism,” and referred to the Zed consortium as “sore losers.”

“What really got to me was that we had staff, many of whom have families, sitting around for 18 months just waiting for the outcome. I think that’s unforgivable,” he said. “We all have to lose at times and I don’t think they’ve done their own reputations any good by not accepting the original decision.”

The satire mag also suggested that Desmond is heading for more “costly delays” in the U.K. because Harvey Goldsmith, described as “best pal of Bob Geldof,” has “thrown a spanner in his works” by referring his proposed purchase (through Hamsard) of half of Academy Music Group to the Office of Fair Trading.

Although Goldsmith has been vocal about his opposition to the Hamsard deal, he said it bothers him less than it does other promoters and agents whom he described to Pollstar as being too “fucking chicken” to speak out.

The idea that Goldsmith has let the cat out of Desmond’s bag by grassing up his plans to the OFT is clearly ridiculous, as Hamsard president Paul Latham would have kept the OFT informed from the outset.

Meanwhile, back in Ireland, The Phoenix is predicting even more woe for the promoter it refers to as “moneybags” because Stokes has launched High Court proceedings against Desmond over the money lost on the failure of Dublin’s Hot Press Hall of Fame.

– John Gammon