It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that it does not broadcast a licensable service without a licence. To do so is a criminal offence. This requires the applicant to assess the licence definitions in the broadcasting legislation and decide whether a licence is required, if necessary with the assistance of its professional advisers. In the case of a satellite television service, the applicant must also assess whether it falls within UK jurisdiction. The ITC’s role is to assess the ownership, fitness and propriety and programme proposals of the applicant on receipt of the application. It also publishes general notes for the guidance of applicants.
The applicant must be the provider of the service. By provider of the service we mean the person who is in a position to determine what is included in the service. This person could for example be a company, a partnership or a sole trader as appropriate.
The applicant submits the appropriate application form together with a cheque for the current fee (see below) and supporting documentation listed on the declaration page of the application form. The ITC’s licensing department assesses the submitted application in the light of the legislative requirements concerning ownership and fitness and propriety and the ITC’s Programmes and Advertising Groups consider the content and compliance proposals. The licensing department then reverts to the applicant either with a request for further information or a decision regarding the licensing of the service.
As a guideline, it can take approximately 4 weeks from receipt of the application to the issuing of a licence. Applicants are nevertheless advised to ensure that they have obtained their licences well in advance of their intended launch date. Applicants with religious objects are advised to allow approximately 8 weeks for their application to be considered by the Commission in the light of the religious ownership guidelines which can be found in the guidance notes for STS/LPS applicants. Applications for services which are intended for communities, regions or countries which have issues of political or civil unrest should be aware that the ITC is under a duty to ensure that it does not license bodies with objects of a wholly or mainly political nature and will consider such applications carefully in the light of its duties. Such applications may take a number of months to clear.
The type of licence required will depend on the platform on which the service is intended to be carried. A service which is delivered by satellite will require a satellite television service licence (STS). A service intended for cable distribution will require a licensable programme service licence (LPS) unless the service is delivered to cable headends by satellite in which case it will require an STS. A programme service intended for distribution over one of the digital terrestrial multiplexes will require a digital programme service licence (DPS). If the service is intended for distribution over more than one platform it will require each relevant licence.
There is no separate licence called a “digital licence”. The STS licence covers both analogue and digital satellite. The LPS licence covers both analogue and digital cable programme services. The DPS is a digital service delivered over digital terrestrial.
There is no separate category of licence for a teleshopping channel. A teleshopping applicant could hold any of the above-mentioned licences depending on the intended delivery platform. A teleshopping channel is regarded as such by virtue of the amount and scheduling of teleshopping in accordance with RASA (the ITC’s Rules on the Amount and Scheduling of Advertising).
Again, there is no separate category of licence for an interactive service. An interactive applicant could hold any of the above-mentioned licences depending on the intended delivery platform. Applicants are also advised to obtain a copy of the ITC’s policy statement on interactive services available on the ITC’s web site.
The initial fee for 2002 is £1500 (being the non-refundable application fee of £1000 plus the minimum first year’s licence fee of £500). Applicants should also consult the ITC’s press release on licence fees which is released each December which will indicate the fees payable on the anniversary of the licence.
Applications should be sent to the Licensing Department at the ITC, 33 Foley St, London W1W 7TL.
Applicants can start to broadcast once the ITC has issued the appropriate licence.
Satellite television service licences and licensable programme service licences have a duration of 10 years. Digital programme service licences are for an indefinite period.
For detailed assessment of the legislative provisions applicants are advised to seek their own legal advice. The ITC publishes general notes for the guidance of applicants and the ITC Notes which contain items of interest for prospective applicants.
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