27 June 2001
RADIO AUTHORITY PUBLISHES ASSESSMENT OF RE-AWARDED LOCAL LICENCE FOR KETTERING, CORBY & WELLINGBOROUGH
The Radio Authority has today (27 June) published the details of the Kettering, Corby & Wellingborough local licence re-award made to Connect FM. The Authority re-awarded the licence on 6 June 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.
RE-ADVERTISED LOCAL LICENCE AWARD:
KETTERING, CORBY & WELLINGBOROUGH
ASSESSMENT OF SUCCESSFUL APPLICATION
BY CONNECT FM
Applications were invited on 27 October 2000. By the closing date of 13 February 2001, two applications were received, from:
Connect FM (KCBC Ltd., the existing licence holder)
Vision FM Ltd.
The licence was awarded to Connect FM, to run for a further period of eight years from 1 January 2003.
Assessment of the winning application
Members noted that Forward Media Ltd., the present owners of KCBC Ltd., the existing licence holder, only acquired the station a year ago. Members took the view that the changes which Forward Media had implemented during this period, and the further changes to the service proposed in the application, fully justified the re-award of the Kettering, Corby and Wellingborough licence to Connect FM.
Members noted that over the past twelve months, Forward Media had invested heavily in the station in order to improve its performance and had made a commitment to continue to do so during the new licence term. This strategy appears to have already started to yield results, most notably, in terms of sales revenue, where a sizeable increase was reported in the final quarter of last year.
Members were satisfied that Connect FM catered well for the tastes and interests of the local community, as demonstrated by both recent RAJAR figures, and the audience survey commissioned by the applicant to investigate the current level of satisfaction amongst listeners, and their preferences for the future licence period. Connect FM will continue to be a full-service station based on the ‘classic hits’ format. During the coming licence term it will also provide, as it currently does, a limited amount of programming that is split by frequency, during which periods the editorial focus will be on Corby and Wellingborough respectively (including one programme per week which targets specifically the ethnic minority population of Wellingborough). Members considered the programme proposals for the new licence period to be well judged and realistic in terms of the staff and resources needed to deliver them.
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 and re-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.
The existing licence, held by KCBC Ltd, broadcasting as Connect FM, expires on 31 December 2002. The Authority asked for declarations of intent to apply for the licence in September 2000, under the provisions of the ‘special application procedure’ introduced in the 1996 Act which potentially allows the possibly of ‘fast track’ re-licensing of the existing operator. One declaration was received, in addition to the one submitted by the existing licence holder. In line with the Authority’s published policy the licence was therefore fully re-advertised. When it re-advertised the Kettering, Corby and Wellingborough local licence the Authority invited public comment on the local radio needs of listeners in the 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 main public libraries in Kettering, Corby and Wellingborough and at the Authority’s offices in London. A notice was issued on 13 February 2001 inviting public comments on the applications.
All applications were 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 (Re-advertised Licences) and the coverage brief for this licence, issued at the date of the licence re-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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