15 December 2000
Radio Authority confirms award of digital multiplex
licence for Humberside and publishes assessment
The Radio Authority is today (15 December) confirming the award of the local digital multiplex licence for Humberside to Emap Digital Radio Ltd. The Authority made a conditional award to Emap Digital Radio Ltd. on 3 November. The company has accepted the Authority's condition that it should modify the details of its transmitter installations to improve the coverage within the 'primary protected area'.
The Authority is also publishing the details of this licence award and a 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 DIGITAL RADIO MULTIPLEX SERVICE: HUMBERSIDE
ASSESSMENT OF LICENCE AWARD
The award of the local digital radio multiplex service licence for Humberside to Emap Digital Radio Ltd was confirmed on Thursday, 14 December 2000. The licence will run for twelve years from the date the service commences broadcasting.
Assessment of the application
The award of the licence to Emap Digital Radio Ltd was made on the understanding that the launch of the multiplex would be no later than December 2001, as proposed by the applicant. The applicant has agreed to modify the details of its transmitter installations to improve the coverage within the ‘primary protected area’ (PPA), by starting its service with three transmitters at High Hunsley, Bridlington and Grimsby. Members agreed that further roll-out of coverage could be delayed until household penetration of digital receivers locally reaches 31%, at which point the addition of a further transmitter, at Trent View Flats in Scunthorpe, would be considered. This arrangement should facilitate 'outdoor coverage' of up to 97% of the adult (aged 15+) population of the PPA, according to the applicant’s own estimate.
Emap Digital Radio Ltd is wholly owned by one of the largest commercial radio companies, Emap Performance Ltd. Consequently, the Authority had no doubt about the applicant’s ability to establish and maintain the service proposed in the application.
The commercial programme services proposed by the applicant are as follows:
Contemporary hit radio 96.9 Viking FM (provider: Emap Performance Ltd.)
Dance Kiss (provider: Emap Performance Ltd.)
Easy listening Magic 1161 (provider: Emap Performance Ltd.)
Full service Lincs FM (provider: Lincs FM plc)
Gold Classic Gold (provider: GWR Digital Ltd.)
Modern rock Xfm (provider: Capital Radio plc)
Adult contemporary Big (provider: The Wireless Group plc)
In response to questioning by the Authority’s staff, Emap Digital Radio Ltd confirmed that Xfm, Kiss and Big will each be providing a minimum of local news and travel information in breakfast programmes when the level of household penetration of digital radio reaches one third of all homes in Humberside. Classic Gold will be providing, as a minimum, four hours of local programming relevant to Humberside from the commencement of broadcasting. 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.
4. Broadening the range of local digital programme services
As there are no local digital programme services available in the Humberside area, and as this was the sole application, this criterion was effectively satisfied by default.
Emap Digital Radio Ltd supplied evidence of local support with its application in the form of letters, including seven from local Members of Parliament. Emap chose to argue that the best measure of local support was that shown for the individual services to be broadcast on the multiplex, and to that effect used RAJAR figures and an audience survey carried out by Continental Research to illustrate the level of support for individual programme services.
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.
Background to the application
Applications were invited on 19 May 2000. By the closing date of 12 September 2000, one application was received, from Emap Digital Radio Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Emap Performance Ltd.
Copies of the non-confidential section of the application were made available for public inspection in Hull Central Library, Grimsby Central Library and at the Authority’s offices in London. A notice was issued on 12 September 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.