LOCAL DIGITAL RADIO MULTIPLEX SERVICE:
MANCHESTER ASSESSMENT OF LICENCE AWARD
The local digital radio multiplex service licence for Manchester was awarded to CE Digital Ltd on Thursday 3 June 1999, to run for twelve years from the date the service commences broadcasting.
Applications were invited on 17 December 1998. By the closing date of 13 April 1999, one application was received, from CE Digital Ltd, an equal joint venture between Emap Radio Ltd and Capital Radio plc.
Copies of the non-confidential section of the application were made available for public inspection at Manchester Central Library and at the Authoritys office in London. A notice was issued on 13 April 1999 inviting public comments on the application. Under the terms of section 51(2) of the Broadcasting Act 1996, when considering whether, or to whom, to award a local digital radio multiplex licence, the Authority must have regard to the following specific matters:
The Authority is also required to take account of any representations made in respect of the application.
Consideration of the application
Members were satisfied with the applicants proposals for the roll-out of coverage, with an initial two transmission sites (at the Sunley Building in Manchester city centre and Winter Hill) to be implemented from the commencement of services in May 2000. There would be some further extension of coverage using a third site at Sutton Common at a later stage, when digital receiver penetration in the region reaches 16% of households which, according to the applicants own predictions, would be in 2005.
The applicant is a joint venture between the two largest operators, in terms of market capitalisation, in the commercial radio industry. The Authority had no doubt about CE Digitals ability to establish and maintain the service proposed in the application.
The commercial programme services proposed by the applicant are as follows:
Simulcasts of existing Manchester area (analogue) ILR services
Key 103 Emap Radio Ltd (contemporary hits)
Magic - Emap Radio Ltd (hits from the previous four decades)
Lite - Independent Radio Group Ltd (easy listening)
Asian Sound Asian Sound Radio Ltd (Asian service)
Classic Rock and Sport (provided by Talk Radio UK Ltd/Guardian Media Group plc)
Xfm Capital Radio plc - relayed from London (modern rock)
Kiss - Emap Radio Ltd relayed from London (dance)
Members were pleased to note that following submission of its application, in response to questioning by the Authoritys staff, CE Digital Ltd had made a commitment to provide local programming of a minimum of local news and travel at breakfast on Kiss and Xfm once digital receiver penetration had reached one-third of all households in the Manchester area. Members also noted that in the event that CE Digital Ltd is unable to reach a final agreement with any of the above-named proposed digital sound programme service providers, a Hot New Country service (to be provided by Scottish Radio Holdings plc) has been identified as the reserve programme format.
As there are no local digital programme services available in the Manchester area, and as this was the sole application, this criterion was effectively satisfied by default.