88/00 20 June 2000
RADIO AUTHORITY PUBLISHES KNOWSLEY LOCAL LICENCE AWARD ASSESSMENT
The Radio Authority has today (20 June) published the details of the Knowsley local licence award made to KCR FM. The Authority awarded the licence on 8 June 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.
LOCAL LICENCE AWARD: KNOWSLEY
ASSESSMENT OF SUCCESSFUL APPLICATION BY KCR FM
Applications were invited on 10 December 1999. By the closing date of 28 March 2000, three applications were received, as follows:
KCR FM (Knowsley Community Radio Ltd.)
Radio KFM (The Keylink Trust)
Knowsley FM Ltd.
The licence was awarded to KCR FM Ltd., to run for eight years from the date the service commences broadcasting.
Assessment of the winning application
KCR FM originated from a group called Radio Briars Hey which first formed in 1992. The group has operated a total of eight trial broadcasts in the area since that time, under the Authority’s restricted service licence (RSL) scheme. Consequently, KCR FM has developed a strong local profile and was able to demonstrate a wealth of local support for its application, including the backing of a local MP and other prominent members of the community.
In Members’ view the board composition effectively combined radio expertise and business experience with genuinely local connections. The application offered a credible analysis of the local market and a sound business plan, important factors in achieving financial viability in a relatively difficult market. Members considered the involvement of Chrysalis Radio, which has been increasing its support of small-scale local stations, to be an advantage due to its ability to offer both professional resources and secure funding.
Programming will consist of a fairly standard mix of classic hits from the 1960’s to the present day with local news and information. The speech element of the service will comprise between 20% - 40% of KCR FM's weekly daytime output and will include a range of short features covering community-based information and general entertainment. Additionally, a topical magazine programme has been scheduled for weekday evenings. Members were concerned that the proposed number of staff was small in relation to industry norms, but felt that this deficiency could be overcome with competent, multi-skilled employees. A firm news-sharing arrangement with a local news provider might also have been a valuable asset in such a scenario. Notwithstanding these shortcomings, Members considered the application to have satisfied creditably the statutory criteria and to have been, by some margin, the most competent application of the three received.
Background to award
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 interests 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, 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.
When it advertised the availability of the Knowsley local licence the Authority invited public comment on the local radio needs of listeners in this 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 local libraries in Huyton and Kirkby and at the Authority’s offices in London. A notice was issued on 28 March 2000 inviting public comments on the applications. The Authority took all replies into account when reaching its decision.
All of the applications have been 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 and the coverage brief for this licence, issued at the date of the licence 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.