The Radio Authority is this week (22 December) continuing the advertisement of local digital radio multiplex licences, by inviting applications for a digital multiplex licence to serve the Southend/Chelmsford area. This is the latest of the planned advertisements of digital radio licences, at the rate of one per month, designed to provide local digital services to most of the main population centres of the UK during the next couple of years.
The 'primary protected area' of this licence is designed to allow coverage which, depending upon the successful applicant's transmission proposals, could deliver digital radio programming and data services to an area with an adult (aged 15+) population of up to around 1.2 million, in Southend, Chelmsford and surrounding areas of Essex.
The following main points apply to this licence advertisement:
- the available digital capacity may be used to provide a range of radio programming services, information related to the audio output, and other data services;
- there is no guaranteed place on a local digital multiplex for existing Independent Local Radio stations; however, the range of radio services transmitted on the multiplex may include some or all of these existing stations, and/or new digital-only services. It is for applicants to propose the number and type of services which they intend to provide;
- it is required that a certain amount of digital capacity (128 kbits/sec) should be reserved for the transmission in digital form of the existing BBC local radio service, BBC Essex;
- the licence will be granted initially for a period of twelve years, from the commencement of the service;
- the closing date for applications is Tuesday, 3 April 2001;
- a non-refundable application fee of £15,000 must accompany each application.
General notes of guidance for applicants, including details of the information which must be provided when making an application, are available from the Radio Authority's Director of Development (see address below), together with a coverage brief for this particular licence.
Applications for the licence will be considered according to the factors specified below. Applicants will be asked to submit their proposals in documents comprising two sections: publicly available material to include proposed programme and data services, on which public representations may be invited; and detailed technical and financial information in a confidential section.
When making the award, the Authority will take into account:
- how much of the potential coverage area applicants plan to serve, and by what timetable this will be achieved;
- whether applicants appear sufficiently resourced to deliver their proposals;
- to what extent the radio services proposed by applicants appeal to a variety of local tastes and interests. The legislation also requires the broadening of local digital choice to be taken into account;
- local support for applicants' proposals;
- how fair applicants have been in contracting with providers of radio programmes and data services who wish to be included on the multiplex.
The Authority welcomes views from the public on the services required from local digital radio in the Southend/Chelmsford area, and in due course upon the proposals put forward by applicants for this licence. These should be sent to David Vick, Director of Development, The Radio Authority, Holbrook House, 14 Great Queen Street, London WC2B 5DG.
The Authority expects to award the licence in the early Summer of next year.
NOTES TO EDITORS
- The services will be transmitted on the VHF band III frequency block 12D (centre-frequency 229.072 MHz).
- Digital radio is a new transmission system which provides the listener with bundles (called multiplexes) of audio services to new portable and vehicle receivers, and personal computers, with unprecedentedly clear reception. Being digital, it can also broadcast data services which may or may not be related to the radio programmes; e.g. traffic information, electronic publishing, and internet-type information.
- The Authority has already awarded a national digital radio multiplex licence, to Digital One Ltd., whose services will also be available in this local area.
- If an existing local radio station successfully secures a place on a local digital multiplex covering at least 25% of its area, it can apply to have its analogue licence renewed for a further eight years.
- 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.