77/00 24 May 2000
RADIO AUTHORITY PUBLISHES ASSESSMENT OF
LOCAL DIGITAL MULTIPLEX LICENCE
AWARD FOR TEESSIDE
The Radio Authority has today (24 May) published the details
of its assessment of the local digital multiplex licence award for Teesside. The
Authority awarded the licence to Emap Digital Radio Ltd. on 11 May 2000.
ASSESSMENT OF LICENCE AWARD
The local digital radio multiplex service licence for Teesside was awarded to Emap Digital Radio Ltd. on Thursday 11 May 2000, to run for twelve years from the date the service commences broadcasting.
Consideration of the application
The licence was offered to Emap Digital Radio Ltd. on the understanding that the proposed launch date of the service is June 2001. Emap will be using two transmitters at Eston Nab and Brusselton to provide ‘outdoor coverage’ to an estimated 94% of the adult (aged 15+) population of the ‘primary protected area’.
Emap is one of the main operators in UK commercial radio and has already been involved in seven successful applications for local digital multiplex licences. The Authority had no doubt about Emap Digital Radio Ltd.’s ability to establish and maintain the service proposed in the application.
The commercial programme services proposed by the applicant are as follows:
Gold Classic Gold (programme provider: GWR Radio Ltd.)
Adult Contemporary Programme provider: The Wireless Group
Hot AC Programme provider: to be decided
Dance Kiss (programme provider: Emap Radio Ltd.)
Easy Listening Magic 1170 (programme provider: Emap Radio Ltd.)
Contemporary Hit Radio 96.6 TFM (programme provider: Emap Radio Ltd.)
Modern Rock Xfm (programme provider: Capital Radio plc)
Both Capital for Xfm and Emap for Kiss have committed to provide local news and travel information at breakfast time when household penetration reaches 34%. The same approach to local content will be adopted in the adult contemporary service provided by The Wireless Group. GWR’s Classic Gold service will be a relay of the existing analogue service and, as in other areas, will contain four hours of local
programming from day one. Members are aware that there is no explicit obligation for local digital multiplex licensees to provide localised services. However, section 85(3)(a) of the 1990 Broadcasting Act gives the Radio Authority an overarching statutory obligation to ensure the provision of licensed services of ‘high quality’, and Members view local content as forming an essential element of quality.
As there are no local digital programme services available in the Teesside area, and as this was the sole application, this criterion was effectively satisfied by default.
In order to fulfil this category Emap Digital Radio Ltd. chose to elicit support letters from selected local representatives in order to illustrate the high esteem in which its local services, TFM and Magic 1170, are held. Thirty-eight letters of support, including three from local MP’s, accompanied the application. Emap also used the fact that the combined reach of these services amounted to "42% of all adults" in Teesside according to RAJAR, to demonstrate local support.
The Authority has no reason to believe that the applicant has not acted in a manner calculated to ensure fair and effective competition when contracting or offering to contract with potential or proposed service providers. In accordance with the licence conditions pursuant to the Broadcasting Act 1996, the Authority will keep matters of fair and effective competition and undue discrimination under regular review.
Applications for this licence were invited on 19 November 1999. By the closing date of 14 March 2000, one application had been received, from Emap Digital Radio Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of Emap Radio Ltd.
Copies of the non-confidential section of the application were made available for public inspection in Middlesbrough Central Library and at the Authority’s offices in London. A notice was issued on 14 March 2000 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.