17/00 1 February 2000
RADIO AUTHORITY PUBLISHES ASSESSMENT OF RE-AWARDED LICENCE FOR GUERNSEY
The Radio Authority has today (1 February) published the details of the Guernsey licence re-award made to Island FM (Island FM 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 LOCAL LICENCE AWARD: GUERNSEY ASSESSMENT OF SUCCESSFUL APPLICATION BY ISLAND FM
Applications were invited on 9 July 1999. By the closing date of 12 October 1999, two applications were received, from:
Island FM Ltd., the existing licence holder; and
Bay FM (Bid 2000 Ltd.).
The licence was awarded to Island FM Ltd., to run for a further period of eight years from 15 October 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, held by Island FM Ltd., expires on 14 October 2000. The Authority asked for declarations of intent to apply for the local licence in May 1999 under the provisions of the ‘special application procedure’ introduced in the 1996 Act, which potentially allows the possibility of ‘fast track’ re-licensing of the existing operator. Two such declarations were received. In line with the Authority’s published policy, the licence was therefore fully re-advertised. When it re-advertised the Guernsey 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 Guille-Alles Library in St Peter Port, Guernsey, in Alderney Library and at the Authority’s offices in London. A notice was issued on 12 October 1999 inviting public comments on the applications. The Authority took all replies into account when reaching its decision. The Authority also paid close attention to the views expressed to it by the Broadcasting Committee of the States of Guernsey, which it is required to consult with on radio licensing matters in the Bailiwick.
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
Members recognised that Island FM has been one the most impressive performers in the independent local radio industry, consistently achieving the highest audience reach and per capita revenue figures of any commercial radio station. Consequently Members had no doubt about the ability of Island FM to maintain its service. Similarly its ability to cater effectively for local tastes and interests could be amply demonstrated by RAJAR figures which showed an extremely high listenership to the station, including among those age-groups which are outside its primary target audience of 15-44 year-olds.
Although a change of ownership had taken place since the original award, with Tindle Newspapers acquiring the station, Members could see no evidence that this had negatively affected the management or operation of the station. Local members of the board had remained in place, and there had been no diminution of the local character of the service provided. The popularity of the service, and its proposals for the future, was evident from the high level of local support demonstrated by Island FM.