LOCAL LICENCE AWARD: BURNLEY
ASSESSMENT OF SUCCESSFUL APPLICATION BY 2BR
Applications were invited on 7 May 1999. By the closing date of 7 September 1999, two applications were received, from:
Burnley FM Ltd
2BR (Two Boroughs Radio Ltd)
The licence was awarded to 2BR, to run for eight years from the date the service commences broadcasting.
When licensing Independent Radio services, it is the duty of the Authority under the Broadcasting Act 1990 ("the Act") to do all that it can to secure the provision within the UK of a range and diversity of local services (section 85(2)(b) of the Act). Furthermore, under section 85(3) of the Act the Authority must discharge its functions in the manner which it considers is best calculated to:
(a) facilitate the provision of licensed services which (taken as a whole) are of high quality and offer a wide range of programmes calculated to appeal to a variety of tastes and interests; and
(b) ensure fair and effective competition in the provision of such services and services connected with them.
Under section 105 of the Act, the matters to which the Authority shall have regard when determining whether, or to whom, to grant a local licence are:
(a) the ability of each applicant to maintain the proposed service throughout the licence period;
(b) the extent to which the proposed service would cater for the tastes and interests of persons living in the area or locality for which the service would be provided, and, where it is proposed to cater for any particular tastes and interests of such persons, the extent to which the service would so cater;
(c) the extent to which the proposed service would broaden the range of programmes available by way of local services to persons living in the relevant area or locality, and, in particular, the extent to which the service would cater for tastes and interest which are different from those already catered for by existing local services in the area; and
(d) the extent to which any application is supported by persons living in that area.
While the requirements of sections 85 and 105 of the Broadcasting Act 1990 will invariably form the basis of all awards, each licence award will be made on an individual basis, with regard to the factors which, in the view of the Authority, are particularly relevant to that case.
When it advertised the availability of the Burnley local licence, the Authority invited public comment on the local radio needs of listeners in this area and the type of programme service required. Copies of the applications were made available for public inspection in public libraries in Burnley, Nelson and Colne and at the Authoritys offices in London. A notice was issued on 7 September 1999 inviting public comments on the applications. The Authority took all replies into account when reaching its decision.
Both applications were considered carefully by the Authority in accordance with the Act, and as against the advertised criteria set out in the Authoritys Notes of Guidance for Local Licence Applicants and the coverage brief for this licence, issued at the date of the licence advertisement. The applicants were invited to respond to written questions on programming, audience and support, and finance. Telephone interviews were conducted on the composition and history of the applicant groups.
Existing commercial radio provision
The Burnley and Pendle area is currently poorly served by existing ILR coverage. The only radio station which officially includes the area is Asian Sound Radio, a Manchester-based service directed at Asian listeners in East Lancashire. North-west regional services Jazz FM and Century 105 are audible in some parts of the area, as are the Preston-based services Rock FM and Magic 999 AM.
Assessment of the winning application
Two Boroughs Radio is a group which has worked hard to develop a high profile in the community. Its founders were involved in three trial broadcasts in the area during 1997 and 1998. As a consequence the group was able to demonstrate a high level of local support for its application.
The structure of the group represents a good combination of relevant media experience and local involvement. The participation of the local newspaper owner brings news-gathering and local marketing expertise, while Minster Sound and Non Metropolitan Radio contribute practical knowledge of operating similar-sized ILR services elsewhere.
The group has taken care to ensure that its programme proposals are designed to reflect local tastes and interests, and to have widespread appeal, especially within a primary target listenership aged 25 to 54. 2BR offers a solid commitment to speech content, with a minimum of 25% speech during daytime hours, seven days a week. The group's local news operation is to be well-resourced, and appears capable of delivering the quality and amount of local news output proposed in the application. A well balanced, popular music service should also meet audience requirements. Members noted that, in planning a programme sequence for the area's sizeable Asian community, the group had paid attention to the needs of listeners from different generations.