28 September 2000


The Radio Authority has today (28 September) published the details of the Dumbarton licence award made to Castle Rock FM Dumbarton Ltd. The Authority made the award on 7 September 2000.


A copy of the full assessment is attached.





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.



Applications were invited on 9 February 2000. By the closing date of 30 May 2000, one application was received, from:

Castle Rock FM Dumbarton Ltd.

The licence was awarded to Castle Rock FM Dumbarton Ltd., to run for eight years from the date the service commences broadcasting.

Assessment of the winning application

Members were impressed by the quality of the application made by Castle Rock FM, which was clearly the product of a dedicated and professional approach. Allan Timmins and Jack Bennie, the founder members of the group, have run regular trial broadcasts under restricted service licences ("RSLs") in Dumbarton since 1994. Over the course of eight broadcasts the group has built links with the local business community and established a high profile with listeners locally.

As a result, Castle Rock FM managed to secure evidence of significant local support for its application. Over two hundred support letters from local businesses, public services, local clubs, societies and individuals accompanied the application, including 21 endorsements from locally elected representatives.

Castle Rock undertook some good and detailed audience research, as well as drawing on its RSL broadcast experience to determine its programme proposals which Members felt were interesting, original, and would effectively broaden choice in the area. The group is proposing a locally focused full service playing a broad-based mix of popular classic hits from the 60’s to the present day. It has made a significant commitment to local features and speech content, which will account for not less than 20% of weekday peaktime output. Planned features include Castle Rock FM Action (a health and drug education slot). Members felt that the news and speech proposals would stretch staff resources, but accepted that the proposed use of multi-skilling, freelancers and volunteers would help in this regard.

Members were of the view that the Dumbarton market would pose considerable challenges for a new operator, and that the audience and revenue projections might prove to be somewhat optimistic. However, it was felt that the involvement of Radio Investments Ltd., a company that has a good deal of experience in investing successfully in small-scale stations, and owns Central FM the local radio licensee for nearby Stirling and Falkirk (with whom some useful sharing of resources was contemplated), would provide the group with necessary support. 

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 Dumbarton 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 application were made available for public inspection in the local library in Dumbarton and at the Authority’s offices in London. A notice was issued on 30 May 2000 inviting public comments on the application. The Authority took all replies into account when reaching its decision.

The application has 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 applicant was invited to respond to written questions on programming, audience and support, and finance.