27 April 2001
Radio Authority publishes assessment of Warminster licence award
The Radio Authority has today (27 April) published the details of the Warminster licence award made to Pride FM Ltd. The Authority made the award on 5 April 2001.
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: WARMINSTER
ASSESSMENT OF SUCCESSFUL APPLICATION
BY PRIDE FM LTD
Applications were invited on 11 August 2000. By the closing date of 21 November 2000, three applications were received, as follows:
Pride FM Ltd.
WCR Community Radio
White Horse Radio Ltd.
The licence was awarded to Pride FM Ltd., to run for eight years from the date the service commences broadcasting.
Assessment of the winning application
Members found this licence award decision challenging because of the difficulties of comparing the proposals put forward by a not-for-profit community radio organisation with those of commercial radio companies. However, Members considered that of all the applicants, Pride FM would best be able to meet the statutory criteria and provide a genuinely locally-focused service for the people of Warminster.
Section 105(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1990 directs Members to assess the ability of each applicant to maintain the proposed service over the eight year licence period. This is particularly demanding in areas with smaller coverage areas such as Warminster. In Members' view, Pride FM is well placed to sustain its proposed service which will broadcast to an estimated 50,000 adults in Warminster, Westbury and Frome. Its board of directors combines local community and business connections with radio experience. Pride FM Ltd. is 100% owned by Spire FM, the local radio licensee for Salisbury, owned by Radio Investments Ltd., and as a small station it will benefit from the support of a larger group. Pride's business plan was based on realistic audience projections, and its funding proposals were sensible and secure. It had based its forecasts on credible assumptions about the coverage likely to be achieved. The staffing and management structure proposed makes use of the links between Pride FM and Spire FM, by providing for a shared managing director and centralised accounting, credit control and commercial traffic functions, yet retains autonomy for the local station manager. Although Pride will introduce a volunteer scheme similar to that run by Spire, where volunteers source local stories, provide sports reports and assist with technical duties, the station will not need to be dependent upon volunteers for its staff resources.
Pride FM proposes a 24 hour a day service, targeting primarily an audience of 25 to 54 year olds with a full service of local relevance. Its programming content will consist of between 20% and 40% speech during weekday daytimes, and will include features on local business and the military community in Warminster amongst other local content. Local news bulletins, including local sports coverage, will be carried between 6.30 and
18.30 during the week and between 8.00 and 11.00 at weekends, with local sport featuring prominently on Saturday afternoons. The local focus demonstrated by the choice of programme content was welcomed by Members. The proposed music content will consist of tracks from the last four decades, with an emphasis on the 70s and 80s, and the best of current and recent releases.
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 Warminster 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 Warminster public library and at the Authority’s offices in London. A notice was issued on 21 November 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.
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