Wednesday, 10 January 2007

On the night of the 17th of October 1999 something quite unique took place in the city of Londonderry in Northern Ireland. On that Sunday at around 6.30pm Irish Television history was made. Despite many obstacles a small group of dedicated people launched Channel 9 Television from a tiny one room Portakabin on top of Sherriffs Mountain, the highest point overlooking the city.

Channel 9 was the first ever local terrestrial TV station in Ireland and the first TV broadcaster to exist outside of Dublin, Belfast and Galway.When the project was first announced in the local press two years earlier in 1997 there were many, both locally and further afield, who scoffed and said it couldnt be done and that it would never happen. But now finally Channel 9 was on the air, one of the first 3 local terrestrial TV stations in the whole of the UK to begin operations under the then ITC's new local licensing regime.

Friday, 5 January 2007

Since that time however, one of the biggest frauds ever perpetrated in Irish media history has taken place in Derry. The fraud was initiated in the year 2000 and it continues to this day. It is way past time that this story was exposed and this Blog is the first ever public attempt to do so. The perpetrators of the fraud have tried to silence people in the past with both threats and bribes, but they cant silence everyone. This Blog will be updated on a regular basis and I welcome comments and/or information from anyone who can shed more light on the subject. Did you ever work in Channel 9 ? Did you ever have business dealings with the station ? Do you have information to share that might help uncover more facts ? If so, just comment here or email me at . Better still, sign the ONLINE PETITION at and help to bring this fraud to an end.

Channel 9 Television started out as a unique local TV broadcasting service, when it first went on air it had wonderful LOCAL programming which was very popular with the viewers inside its transmission footprint. Channel 9 served a geographical area encompassing much of the north west of the Province of Ulster including parts of Donegal. On a daily basis the channel broadcast a full local news and sport service plus current affairs programmes and studio shows. In addition the station even produced local documentaries and special interest content the like of which had never been seen in the area before. The station was a commercial one and 95% or more of its income and revenues came from advertising and sponsorship.

For the first six months of its existence with a staff of less than twenty five people Channel 9 TV was producing more original local programming than the regional broadcasters at Ulster Television who had a staff of three hundred plus at the time ! This was truly revolutionary television in an Irish context. How times have changed. Today the station produces NO local content whatsoever nor does it broadcast ANY local programming. Instead it airs a Sky News feed plus music videos 24 hours a day. It also gives saturation advertising coverage to a new nightclub which is owned and run by the fraudsters who gained their broadcasting licences by deception. It patently does not fulfill the terms of the licence granted to it by OFCOM.

So that is the position at the time of writing but to understand how this sorry state of affairs developed we must first start off with a little history. Channel 9 developed out of a community based, publicly funded media training and production organisation called Derry Media Access which had been established at the beginning of the 1990s by local media practitioners. Throughout that decade " the DMA" as it became known trained hundreds of young people from all over Ireland in every aspect of media and later multi-media, producing dozens of productions annually and providing employment and internships in a geographical area which hitherto had provided very little opportunity for such activities.

The DMA tale is worthy of a re-telling in itself but that is a story for another blog perhaps. It is sufficient to say however that as the Millenium approached the project's directors in particular realised that some kind of self sustaining media project which could generate jobs and revenue in the Derry area would be the best way to fulfill the organisations community development remit. Such a project would also contribute towards making Derry Media Access a going concern with a solid financial future. Therefore from about 1995 onwards the DMA management worked towards this and hence the idea of a community based local TV station was born.

The story you are about to read is true in its entirety.It has been put together over a considerable period of time via a series of interviews with the various protagonists and other observers. Actual evidence is presented below to support the allegations made herein and more evidence can be supplied to any interested party or organisation if required.

This is a tale of great achievement in the face of almost insurmountable odds. It is a story of ambition, hopes and dreams which were finally betrayed by lies, deceit, corruption, cover-ups and back handers. It implicates a number of people and organisations by name and asks some salient questions.

The biggest questions of all are, how could the UK government's broadcasting watchdog OFCOM and its precurser organisation the ITC give a local Televsion broadcasting Licence to people who were clearly unfit to hold one ? How could they rubber stamp the transfer of said Licence to another dubious company owned by the fradsters ? How could OFCOM then re-licence this same group of people after a competitive franchise bidding process when there were questions over their financial returns ? Finally, why are these fraudsters still in charge of a Television Station in Northern Ireland in 2007 and why are OFCOM going to continue to let them run their inadequate and patently unlawful service for another 5 years ?

This story affects many hundreds of thousands of people in the north west of Ireland, it impacts on every aspect of civil society here. Education, business, sports, culture, local government, the rule of law and the local economy are all affected by what OFCOM has presided over in this case. I feel that this is a story that must now be told publicly for the first time and that the proper auhorities should act to rectify the wrongs outlined below. Most of all I ( and many others ) feel, on the basis of the evidence herein, that OFCOM should perform its statutory function forthwith and strip Channel 9 of its broadcasting licences for breaches of the Regulatory code including misleading the Regulator. Having done that OFCOM should then transfer the aforesaid licences to those who were cheated out of them during the last licence franchise bid in the summer of 2003.

The fraudulent activity to which I refer has taken many forms since the year 2000 and the perpetrators have pulled so many con tricks that even I cannot keep up with them. However put very simply, there were four main major frauds committed . In order of sequence first there was the unlawful takeover of Channel 9 in March 2000, second was the transfer of the Channel 9 licences from the holding company TVC9 Broadcasting Ltd to a new company called Northwest Television Services. The third element was the financially misleading application submitted to OFCOM by the same conmen during the bidding process for a new broadcasting licence in 2003. It was this particular factor that led to the other competing applicant, namely NTV,being subsequently defrauded of the franchise. Finally the last element was the attempted winding up of TVC9 Broadcasting Ltd in 2006 by the fraudsters. It was this last action that has criminal implications.
Before proceeding any further I must name the fraudsters in question. They are, Tony Deehan the present owner of Channel 9 TV, his brother Terry Deehan, a questionable accountant now believed based in Belfast and one Gary Porter a former station manager and one time computer salesman. These three were the main culprits in the story at hand. They were ably abetted by a number of others including one of Tonys sons Garvan, who forged a vital signature and one Paudrig O' Dwyer, a well known radio station director who has his fingers in a number of radio pies all over Ireland including Derry's own Q102.
The first fraud was in reality two separate frauds and to summarise it went as follows. TVC9 Broadcasting Ltd ( trading as Channel 9 ) was the original company which held the licences. It was a normal company with a number of different shareholders both individuals and institutional who had invested in Channel 9 in the hope of a financial return and because they were keen on the project. There were a number of prominent local individuals involved initially including Magee University types like Professor Robert Gavin and Professors John Ward and Fabian Monds. Local businessmen also held shares including former bookmaker Michael Canavan, electricity contractor Ian Young, eye specialist Dr Kervik of Belfast and the clothing family the Chadas. These people had put in different amounts ranging from £5000 to £100,000. The institutions included VFG from England, a major film equipment company at the time and McMillan Broadcast UK. These shares were bought during 1999.
At this point we must introduce one of the most cental characters in the story, Paul Boyle. Boyle was a driven, obsessed and sometimes eccentric character who is universally accepted as the founder of Channel 9. He was the initial and continuing driving force behind the project and was instrumental in every aspect of its establishment including the raising of the necessary capital to begin operations. Boyle had also founded the previously mentioned DMA and he and the DMA were awarded the local broadcast licence in the first instance by the regulator. Importantly he also had significant shares in Channel 9 via his own holding company, namely Honeybee Enterprises.
The Deehans came in late in December 1999 and bought some shares, they were a minority holder initially but they spent the next 6 months organising a company takeover. They did this with the help of their principle accomplice Mr Gary Porter. He had been employed by Boyle and was a personal friend of some 20 years standing. This didnt stop him shafting his employer. To cut the story short Boyle called an EGM of the Channel 9 Board in March 2000 to approve an investment deal which he had put together with Dublin cinema chain magnate Thomas Anderson. Anderson was to invest £200,000 in return for unissued shares in the company.
It never happened, at the EGM meeting the Deehans executed their sting and produced what later turned out to be a forged proxy vote on behalf of VFG which tipped the balance of control in the company. They were aided in this vote by a VFG executive called richard Blue. It later transpired that VFG CEO Tony Covell had never given any permission for a proxy vote to be given on his behalf. Dr Kervik and O'Dwyer who also conspires with the Deehans for months to undermine the management and handicap the sales team. Incredibly, O'Dywer as head of Channel9 sales, told his team NOT to sell ads until some technical problems were ironed out. This is probably the only example ever of a sales based business refusing to make sales ! Ironically the Deehans later shafted both these unscrupulous characters and diluted their shares still further. Boyle and others were shown the door and the fraudsters took over. The second part of this first fraud took place a few weeks later when one Deehan brother sold the unissued shares to the other for £20,000 at a "kangaroo" Board meeting despite the fact that Boyle was sitting there with a £200,000 offer from Anderson for the shares. This unlawful dilution was later challenged at the High Court in Belfast by Boyle and Anderson. The matter was settled out of court by the nervous Deehans and it didnt go to trial. They got away with it. Boyle was never happy about this outcome.
FRAUD # 2.
Once the Deehan group gained effective control of Channel 9 they set about covering their tracks and establishing a complex web of deceit designed to maximise profits whilst simultaneously hiding the true financial state of the company. This of course had always been their aim. They were able to do all of what follows because of Terry Deehans status as an accountant. It would appear that he was the brains behind the entire plan. Many stunts were pulled too numerous to mention, one of the funniest pronouncements however came from Mr Porter within months of the takeover. It should be remembered that neither the Deehans or Porter had ANY previous experience whatsoever of the media up to this point, never mind experience in running a TV station. In one of the UK media trade magazines Porter tried to make a virtue of this by saying that because they knew nothing about TV they would bring a fresh perspective to it without preconditioned thinking. He also took the opportunity to rubbish Paul Boyle and the previous management. This is somewhat akin to an astronaut saying that his total lack of any previous flying experience makes him an ideal candidate for moonshots and that Buzz Aldrin was bad at his job. However, fraud number 2 unfolded as follows. As previously stated TVC9 Broadcasting Ltd held the OFCOM licences to broadcast. In a nutshell the Deehans set up a new company called Northwest Television Services Ltd which was wholly owned by them. A quick check at Companies House in Belfast reveals that the Directors included Porter and all the Deehans as shareholders. The Deehans lied to OFCOM and got the licences ( and therefore the main assets ) transferred to their new company. They stripped the old company of everything worthwhile. They did this to avoid any debts or liabilities for TVC9 Brodcasting Ltd. This becomes very important later in the story. They did not tell the other shareholders what they were doing nor did they consult them and they therefore frauded those local TVC9 Broadcasting Ltd shareholders ( Gavin, Monds, Chada et al ) mentioned previously. OFCOM allowed them to do it all unchallenged. It should be mentioned also that the Deehans were infamous for their mistreatment of staff. It got so bad in the end that the UK media union BECTU blacklisted Channel9 and strongly advised that no one should ever work for the station.
FRAUD # 3.
By 2003 the Deehans had made considerable amounts of money each year running into hundreds of thousands of pounds annually. Despite this they had not produced any financial returns for either TVC9 Broadcasting Ltd or Northwest Television Services Ltd. For the record, by 2005 they still hadnt produced any meaningful returns and yet they went unchallenged. Most legitimate accountants would express a good deal of surprise if you told them that a company did this and neither Comanies Registry, OFCOM, the Inland Revenue or the VAT Department ever enquired as to its bona fides. Yet the Deehans got away with this. Could they have bribed people in each organisation ? Who knows. Fraud number 3 took place in the summer of 2003. By that time the licence period had expired and so it came up for renewal by competitive bid. Despite publicly crying continual poverty the Deehans applied again for their Channel 9 OFCOM licences. Why would one apply for something that makes you no money ? In their application they told OFCOM that Channel 9 was barely breaking even. Meanwhile Paul Boyle had put together a formidable counter bid for the licences with a new company called NTV. This outfit were serious competition for the Deehans. First of all Boyle and some former colleagues were heading up the operations side and with their extensive experience and knowledge of establishing a local TV station they were second to none. As if that wasnt enough the NTV board comprised three major local investors, each one a millionnaire in his own right, two of them international industrialists and the other a respected accountant, all had top level contacts. The NTV bid was a solid one based around the central principle of local content and local production. It also included extensive plans for educational, training and outreach projects to include the local community, university and schools. The general word was that NTV couldnt fail in their bid. Many at NTV were quietly confident of success. As the bid deadline approached it actually got to the stage were almost every single employee of Channel 9 contacted NTV via backchannels applying for a job with the new prospective station once NTV were successful. As they say in Ireland "the dogs in the street knew " that NTV would win. One person wasnt so sure. Boyle later revealed to the author of this blog that he had a "bad feeling" about the bid outcome from the very start. He was right. Inexplicably OFCOM gave the licence back to the Deehans again. NTV got a nice letter from OFCOM saying that their bid was an excellent one and it had been very diificult to choose a winning applicant. The local businessmen behind the NTV bid were stunned. They had spent months of time effort and money to put the bid together. They had a studio ready and waiting to go . In the light of events since then if OFCOM were to revisit this decision it wouldnt be too hard to choose today. The main point however is this, the Deehans lied yet again to the Regulator in their submissions for the licence and concealed their true financial position and profitability. NTV were disadvantaged by these lies as their financial projections and business plan were accurate and honest. Therefore the OFCOM decision to hand the licences to Channel 9 ( Northwest Television Services / Deehan ) was based on a series of untruths and misleading financial submissions from the incumbent. It is clearly stated in the OFCOM guidelines for licence applicants that if an applicant misleads the regulator then the licences are forfeited. The actual evidence exists which shows the true financial picture at Channel 9 under the Deehans, this evidence shows its very high turnover and concommitant profits. There are also material witnesses who can verify what sales took place and what revenues Channel 9 made.
FRAUD # 4.
Finally we arrive at the last major, and this time easily understood, fraud. Last year in 2006 the Deehans tried to fraudulently and unlawfully liquidate the old company TVC9 Broadcasting Ltd. They put the matter into the hands of McCambridge Duffy a well known UK liquidator with an office in Derry. Tony Deehan in particular signed a statement saying that he understood that he committed a criminal offence if he misrepresented the true state of the companys financial affairs in order to gain the approval of creditors. This is of course a standard declaration in such matters. What isnt standard however is to sign such a statement knowing full well that you are frauding both creditors, ( who included the Vatman and the Taxman ) and shareholders. This is what Tony Deehan did. I Shadowfax, have seen hundreds of pages of evidence which gives the lie to Deehan's written statement in 2006, the said evidence is in existence and can be made available to the proper authorities. It makes for very interesting reading indeed. Why did the Deehans try to wrap up TVC9 Broadcasting Ltd ? As mentioned previously they did so to avoid paying creditors and to decieve the original shareholders plus the VAT and Tax authorities. Most importantly of all they also did this in order to finally try to cover the trail of lies that went back 6 years to March 2000. This concludes the summary of the salient elements of this scandalous story. I hope this site helps to rectify the injustice which has been done in this case. Shadowfax asked Mr Boyle of the failed NTV bid for comment, he stated that " I am personally very glad that at last the true story of what really happened at Channel9 is in the public domain via this website.Furthermore I and my colleagues still stand ready to deliver real local television to the people of the northwest. We just need to be given the opportunity to do so."
So thats it. This is just a summary of a convoluted story. This fraudulent conspiracy is still being allowed to run, if it had been a small corner shop it would have been screwed to the wall years ago by the VAT and Tax departments. Yet here is a public service channel in the hands of con-men without any action being taken ! It is clear that many questions must be answered. It is also clear that the Deehans are liars and frauds par excellence. It is now surely apparent that they cannot be allowed to continue broadcasting whilst simultaneously depriving genuine broadcasters of the chance to deliver a proper local TV service to the long suffering audience in the north west of Ireland. YOU can help to get them off the air. Please either talk to your local Councillor or MP and /or email OFCOM with your views by clicking on the following link Of course if you think its ok that crooks are running our local TV station and you dont mind the rubbish non-existent "service" they provide then dont do anything at all. But do remember, for evil to succeed good people need merely do nothing. SHADOWFAX. January 2007.