18/00 1 February 2000
RADIO AUTHORITY PUBLISHES ASSESSMENT OF RE-AWARDED LICENCE FOR JERSEY
The Radio Authority has today (1 February) published the details of the Jersey licence re-award made to Channel 103 FM (Channel 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 LOCAL LICENCE AWARD: JERSEY ASSESSMENT OF SUCCESSFUL APPLICATION BY CHANNEL 103 FM
Applications were invited on 9 July 1999. By the closing date of 12 October 1999, two applications were received, from:
Channel 103 FM (Channel Radio Ltd.), the existing licence holder; and
Sunny FM (Sunshine Radio Ltd.).
The licence was awarded to Channel 103 FM, to run for a further period of eight years from 25 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 Channel Radio Ltd, broadcasting as Channel 103 FM, expires on 24 October 2000. The Authority asked for declarations of intent to apply for the licence in May 1999, under the provisions of the ‘special application procedure’ introduced in the 1996 Act which potentially allows the possibly 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 Jersey 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 library in St Helier, Jersey 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 Jersey, which it is required to consult with on radio licensing matters on the Island.
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 Channel 103 FM had a strong record of performance in both audience and revenue terms, achieving the second highest average revenue per head in the independent radio industry. The station has remained stable and profitable. Although the station was acquired in 1998 by Tindle Newspapers, the local directors remained on the board, and the management and staff have considerable experience. Sufficient resources are employed to ensure that the station provides a professional service with a local focus, and the business plan provided suggests that this will continue to be the case. Consequently Members had no doubt about the ability of Channel 103 FM to maintain its service throughout the new licence period.
Members took the view that
Channel 103 FM is catering well for the tastes and interests of the local
community, as demonstrated by its achievement of what are currently among the
highest audience reach figures in the independent radio industry. Its provision of local news and speech
content ensures that local people have access to diverse sources of news and
information. The station’s application
was supported by a wide range of local businesses and community organisations.