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Mowlam leads Emap's Kerrang! bid for Belfast FM licence

LONDON – Mo Mowlam, the former secretary of state for Northern Ireland, is to lead Emap's Kerrang! format bid for the new FM radio licence in Belfast.

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Mowlam, who was central to building the Good Friday Peace agreement, developed a love for Belfast while she was secretary of state for the province from 1997 to 1999.

She said she saw the launch of the station as part of a move to encourage investment in the city and as another sign of the rising optimism that has come as part of the peace process.

"Belfast is on the move. We have to encourage investment and new enterprises to continue the momentum of this new age of optimism. A new commercial radio station can be a valuable part of this," she said.

She added that Belfast's new radio station must also genuinely broaden listening choice.

"Kerrang! Belfast, supported by Emap's unrivalled experience in local radio, will do this, as well as living beyond the dial by creating new opportunities for live music and a new scene for music fans."

For Mowlam, who stood down as an MP at the last general election and has a PHD in anthropology, it is not her first tie up with Emap. Earlier this year, she signed up to offer sex advice to the young readers of Emap's weekly Zoo magazine.

Another Belfast figure, musician and writer Barry McIlheney, is executive director of the bid. He was a member of Belfast punk band Shock Treatment, and is currently editor-in-chief of Emap Consumer Media new product development, having written for and edited a number of Emap magazines such as Melody Maker, Q and FHM.

He was born and brought up in the Oldpark area of the city and attended Cliftonville Primary School and Belfast Royal Academy before going to Trinity College Dublin.

The board will also include John Reid, executive vice-president of marketing for Warner Music International, who attended Belfast's Methodist College.

According to Emap, the station would celebrate all things rock, with a particular focus on classic tracks from the last 40 years.

Kerrang! radio is already available on Freeview, satellite, cable, DAB, online, and on a regional FM service in the West Midlands. Emap will also use the Kerrang! format when bidding for the new FM licence in Manchester.

The deadline for bids is tomorrow, December 8. Emap is known to be competing with a joint bid by The Wireless Group and The Belfast Telegraph, owned by Independent News & Media. The bid is chaired by Chris Gibson OBE, who is pro-chancellor at Belfast's Queens University and a veteran of Irish business.

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