16/00 1 February 2000
RADIO AUTHORITY PUBLISHES ASSESSMENT OF RE-AWARDED LICENCE FOR ALTON/HASLEMERE
The Radio Authority has today (1 February) published the details of the Alton/Haslemere licence re-award made to Delta Radio (Delta Radio Ltd). The Authority re-awarded the licence on 13 January 2000.
A copy of the full assessment is attached.
NOTE TO EDITORS
The Radio Authority is responsible for licensing and regulating Independent Radio in accordance with the statutory requirements of the Broadcasting Acts 1990 and 1996. It plans frequencies, awards licences, regulates programming and advertising, and plays an active role in the discussion and formulation of policies which affect the Independent Radio industry and its listeners.
RE-ADVERTISED LICENCE AWARD: ALTON / HASLEMERE ASSESSMENT OF SUCCESSFUL APPLICATION BY DELTA RADIO
Applications were invited on 14 July 1999. By the closing date of 19 October 1999, two applications were received, from:
Alton Radio Ltd.
Delta Radio Ltd. (the existing licensee, formerly Wey Valley Radio Ltd.).
The licence was awarded to Delta Radio Ltd., to run for a further period of eight years from 22 November 2000.
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 and re-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.
The existing licence for the Alton area, held by Wey Valley Radio Ltd., expires on 21 November 2000. In May 1999, the Authority agreed that the Haslemere relay frequency, which was attached to the Guildford FM licence, could be transferred to become instead part of the Alton licence. Because this represented a substantial redefinition of the existing Alton licence area, the licence was – in line with the Authority’s published policy - fully re-advertised without implementation of the ‘special application procedure’, which would otherwise potentially allow the possibility of so-called ‘fast track’ re-licensing of the existing operator. When it re-advertised the Alton local licence, the Authority invited public comment on the local radio needs of listeners in the area, and the type of programme service required. Copies of the non-confidential sections of the applications were made available for public inspection in the public libraries in Alton and Haslemere, and the Authority’s offices in London. A notice was issued on 19 October 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 Authority’s Notes of Guidance for Local Licence Applicants (Re-advertised Licences) and the coverage brief for this licence, issued at the date of the licence re-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.
Assessment of the winning application
UKRD Group Ltd., the controlling shareholder in Delta Radio Ltd., has been committed to providing locally-orientated radio services in both Alton and Haslemere for many years. As a result of this the group has substantial experience of the local market, an advantage in maximising the possible revenue available in a small licence area. Members felt that this, and the benefit of seven years’ operational experience, had enabled Delta to develop a realistic business plan on which to base its proposals.
Of the two applicants, Delta Radio provided far greater evidence of local support for its proposals. A substantial number of letters from local supporters accompanied the application, and the group’s audience research survey demonstrated that listeners were generally satisfied with the existing service.
Members were impressed by the specialist community output that has been a feature of the Alton service since its launch as Wey Valley Radio, and noted the regard in which it is held by the audience. However, the Members were concerned about the proposal that local news in the breakfast sequence would be pre-recorded the night before.